The new West Indies coach Stuart Law has said his main aim is to make sure the team qualifies directly for the 2019 World Cup.
Currently ranked No. 9 by the ICC, West Indies have to improve their position by at least one spot before the September 30 deadline. The top eight ODI sides, including hosts England, on the cut-off date gain automatic entry into the showpiece event while the bottom four will have to go through the rigours of a qualifying competition, where ten contenders fight for only two spots.
West Indies’ quest begins with the first of three ODIs at home against England on March 3. Then they take on their nearest competition on the rankings table – Pakistan at No. 8 – in April over three matches, which could prove decisive to which of the two teams end up in the top eight. West Indies also have the cushion of five more 50-over matches against England in the UK before September 30. While winning as much as possible would be the priority of any international cricket team, Law knows it is especially important for his.
“The main aim is to qualify for the next World Cup, the 50-over World Cup, so these one-day games are extremely important to us,” he said. “So that’s our main focus really at this stage. I know we have Pakistan coming for T20s, Tests and one-dayers as well but the one-day series probably will take paramount importance.”
There is considerable disappointment in West Indies at missing out on the Champions Trophy. They had won the tournament in 2004 but now, for the first time ever, they will not be part of it. Several issues – prominent among them the spat between the WICB and their biggest match-winners – have meant the one-day team, unlike its counterpart in T20s, is rarely at full strength. These concerns, however, are being addressed with the help of Jimmy Adams, the former captain and the new director of cricket in West Indies.
“It’s a great little tournament, the Champions Trophy, the mini World Cup and to not be there probably isn’t where you want to be,” Law said. “You want to be in every single one of those tournaments but it is what it is. We’ve just got to make sure we have our heads screwed on for the one-day tournaments we play in upcoming tours and if we can win those, we can get through to qualify for the World Cup. That’s probably the bigger one to worry about.”
Law is confident of the men under his charge – “We’ve got power. We’ve got extreme power. Match that with a bit of technique as well, we’re looking pretty good.” – and that helps because he is only into his second month on the job and there are other challenges to navigate as well.
“For me, it’s about seeing how it all operates,” Law said “Learning the different cultures from the different islands and how to address people and how to get the best out of the young kids is probably the most important thing for me now. I’m not going to focus on becoming No. 1 in the world at this stage. I’m focusing on building a culture, building a work ethic in the dressing room that will put the little brick in place so that they can become the best they can be.”