Windies capable of WC impact but improvements needed: Holder

HARARE, Zimbabwe, CMC – Skipper Jason Holder believes West Indies can make a significant impact at next year’s World Cup in England but needs to undergo several improvements in order to strengthen their chances.

The Caribbean side, two-time former World champions, secured one of the two World Cup spots available in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers which finished here Sunday.

Holder pointed out the Windies were not yet the “perfect cricket side” but said there was enough time to make the changes necessary before the showpiece carded for May 30 to July 14.

“We’ve obviously got some room for improvement, we’re still not the perfect cricket side,” Holder told reporters.

“We’ve still got to address a few issues but we’ve got a few months before the World Cup. I think we’ve got four series before we play the World Cup in England so it should be enough time for improvement.

“Hopefully our guys can notice that and I think we’ll definitely put things in place in terms of Cricket West Indies, and having a few camps in order to get us ready for that 2019 World Cup.”

Despite achieving qualification, there was some disappointment for West Indies on Sunday as they went down by seven wickets to Afghanistan in the final.

They were dismissed for just 204 in the 47th over and watched as the Asian side cruised to victory in the 41st, behind half-centuries from the flamboyant Mohammad Shahzad and Rahmat Shah.

“We wanted to win the competition – I said that at the last press conference. Part of our job was to qualify for the World Cup and the other part was to win the competition. Unfortunately we didn’t play well enough [in the final],” Holder explained. “Credit must go to Afghanistan. I thought they had an outstanding tournament. To come from that position they were in – having not brought any points from the group stage – and to come into the Super Six stage and win all their games and then coming and winning the all-important final, credit to Afghanistan and congrats to them.”

West Indies entered the tournament as heavy favourites and lived up to that billing by making a clean sweep of all four preliminary matches, to enter the Super Six second stage on top the standings.

However, they were stunned by the Afghans in the opening match and were then forced to complete their fifth highest run chase in history – 290 – to beat hosts Zimbabwe and keep alive their hopes of qualification.

A fortuitous win over Scotland on Duckworth-Lewis-Stern after they found themselves defending a paltry 198, then saw the Windies to their second win and also sealing their World Cup place.

Holder said above all he was impressed by the character and collective effort displayed by his side.

“I felt we had a really good campaign. We won all of our group stage matches and came into the Super Sixes and lost the first one against Afghanistan, and to rebound the way we did to win the next two must-win games to qualify was tremendous,” he said.

“Throughout the entire tournament we had outstanding performers – we had three century-makers, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer and Rovman Powell – and we had a couple of five-wicket hauls.

“Kemar Roach wasn’t fully fit throughout the entire the tournament and he really put up his hands and the way he bowled us unto strong positions with the new ball was outstanding.”

He added: “This is probably one of the best times we’ve come together as a side and we knew the importance and significance of the tournament and credit must go to each and every individual.”

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