The five-match ODI series against England didn’t start off on the best of notes for the Windies after they lost in Manchester by seven wickets. What that defeat did was it pushed the Windies into the 10-team World Cup Qualifier to be played in 2018, from which only the top two would go on to complete a 10-team lineup at the 2019 mega event in England. On the cut-off date of September 30 Windies were stuck on 78 points, adrift of Sri Lanka by eight points, with the remainder of England ODIs not going to change their fate as far as direct qualification was concerned.
However, in uninspiring times as these, Windies coach Stuart Law called on his boys to use the three ODIs against England, and three against New Zealand at the year end, to prove that they deserve to be a part of the 2019 World Cup to be played in England. After the second ODI at Trent Bridge on Thursday (September 21) was washed out, Law spoke about the need to iron out the woes in their team and travel with a settled unit for the qualifiers in Zimbabwe early next year.
“Our plan is to go to Zimbabwe next year with a settled team, a team where everyone knows their roles and what they want to achieve,” Law said. “It’s a balancing act because what some players bring is extraordinary and you don’t want to nullify that effect. We’ve still got some selectorial conversations to have, to understand if we have the best players to take this team forward.
“There’s plenty of A-team cricket in the Caribbean – Sri Lanka are there and England are coming next year so there are opportunities – but I’d like to go to New Zealand with a team which is pretty settled before the qualifiers,” the coach added.
The Windies have been bolstered by the return of their seasoned campaigners in the form of Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels. Sunil Narine, who walked away with the Man of the Match award in the lone T20I, though has requested the board to let him play a few more domestic one-dayers before staging a return to the ODIs. All-rounder Andre Russell, who adds impeccable balance to the side, is set to return to the game after January 31 next year, having served a one-year ban for missing three drug tests in a 12-month period. All these players are expected to spruce up Windies’ chances in the Qualifier, and Law believes that this group would hold the key in their bid to be one of the top-two teams at the end of the tournament in Zimbabwe.
Gayle was replaced by Kyle Hope after he pulled his hamstring in the series opener, while Miguel Cummins was drafted in place of spinner Devendra Bishoo. Although the Windies are ready to experiment with their combinations, Law believes that this group would need to understand their own game before stepping into this format. “This group I feel has a lot of good, that’s why they are here,” he added. “We are just making sure they understand how they want to play, they are caught between T20 and Test cricket a little at the moment and need to find a tempo for this format,” concluded Law.