BELFAST, Ireland – Captain Jason Holder does not believe West Indies having to play in a qualifying tournament to reach the 2019 World Cup in England, is an embarrassment for the Caribbean side.
Hosts England and the remaining top seven teams in the ICC rankings at the September 30 cut off date will earn direct qualification to the showpiece.
But with the Windies languishing ninth, they face the increasing likelihood of having to contest a 10-nation qualifier – comprising ICC associate nations like the Netherlands and Scotland – in order to secure one of the last two World Cup spots.
“I don’t think it is embarrassing,” Holder said following yesterday’s rained off One-Day International against Ireland.
“The World Cup is of such that teams like Ireland have come into world events and done really well and beat big teams before, as well as other smaller teams, so I don’t think it’s embarrassing.
“We are where we are and if we do have to play in them (qualifiers), we will take it one step at a time.”
The abandoned ODI at Stormont saw the Windies hopes of direct qualification suffer yet another blow. They needed to beat the Irish as well as also defeat England at least 4-1 in the upcoming five-match series starting next week.
However, the Windies can now ill-afford to lose any of the contests against England, leaving them with little margin of error.
Holder, who also led the Windies at the last World Cup in 2015 in Australia and New Zealand, said their ultimate goal was to qualify for the tournament regardless of the route.
“We’re at the stage where we are looking to turn a corner and qualify for the World Cup, whether we have to go through the qualifiers or qualify automatically,” he pointed out.
“We’re excited for the (England) series and hopefully we can play some good cricket.”
West Indies received a major boost for the series with the return of leading players Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels, after Cricket West Indies relaxed its stringent eligibility rules, allowing the duo to be in line for selection.
Several other players like brothers Darren and Dwayne Bravo, along with Sunil Narine, could also still make a return next year and Holder hopes the added experience coupled with the side’s young talent, can lead to positive results.
“We are still a work in progress and hopefully more players are coming back,” Holder said.
“Meantime, we have a young group of players challenging for places and hopefully they can come in and make their presence felt and feel more comfortable in the international arena.”
Meanwhile, former West Indies batting Sir Viv Richards believes the inclusion of Gayle and Samuels would bolster the team.
Richards, while hinting that the availability of key players could have been of great use to the team and Holder in recent struggles, hailed the move to include the senior players as a step in the right direction. Despite showing signs of promise, Holder has at times come in for heavy criticism and Richards said this could be attributed to a lack of experience around him.
“It’s pretty tough for you to get things right at all times and that is where, sometimes, I think you need some of the more professional folks in the room, folks who would have gotten the experience at the higher level giving the sort of information and that’s the time where I think he would have had a letdown because of the lack of information,” Richards said.
“One has got to remember as well that he is very inexperienced and his performances as captain hasn’t quite warranted him, in a sense, to be that dominant, to say the things and to do the things aggressively when you are performing as a captain,” he added.
“Chris has been pretty phenomenal. Anyone who can score 10,000 runs at the T20 level is something very special. He is one of the West Indian greats in that sense. Marlon Samuels being also experienced. There have been some problems but I just believe that there are times when you hear people speak about better late than never. But I don’t think it works in this particular situation but it’s nice that they are back.”
The first ODI against England bowls off at Old Trafford next Tuesday.