BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Captain Jason Holder has underscored the importance of several one-day series leading up to next year’s World Cup in England, stressing it was vital West Indies used them to gain confidence, momentum and a settled line-up for the global showpiece.
In preparation for the May 30 to July 14 event in England and Wales, the Windies will play home and away ODI series against Bangladesh later this year, tour India for another five matches before hosting England early next year.
“For many of us it will be another opportunity to play a World Cup; for some of us it will be the first opportunity so it’s definitely something we’re all looking forward to,” Holder told reporters here at Kensington Oval.
“But we’ve got four series leading up to the World Cup and we’ve got to handle those series first, think about those series and try a few combinations in terms of the make-up of our final squad.
“This year is obviously very important for us. If we can do well in these one-day series we have leading up to the World Cup, improve our ranking and gain some confidence.”
The Caribbean side missed out on automatic qualification but secured one of the two spots up for grabs by finishing second in a 10-team qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe last month.
Favourites at the start, West Indies played unbeaten in the preliminary round, lost one match in the Super Six second stage before clinching their spot in the final against eventual winners Afghanistan.
While the Windies’ participation in the tournament – which involved the likes of Nepal, Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea – was widely regarded as somewhat belittling for the two-time former World Cup winners, Holder said it had been a blessing in disguise.
“Playing in the World Cup qualifiers was not all bad in a way. I think it was an opportunity to come together as a side, get some wins under our belt, play some of the Associate nations and some of the nations which qualified as Full [Member] nations,” explained the 26-year-old, who led the Windies at the last World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
“It gave us some momentum, it gave us a feeling [of] winning again – we’ve won quite a few games in the World Cup qualifiers – and everybody got some performances in here and there and it wasn’t one or two individuals that really stood out in every particular game.
“It was a situation where a different individual put up their hand in every game.”
Despite their stature, West Indies did not have things all their way in the competition. They never got the measure of the Afghans and lost to them twice – once in the Super Sixes and then in the final.
In the preliminaries, they watched a decent United Arab Emirates side post 297 without being dismissed in pursuit of 358 and then survived a scare against PNG, crashing to 58 for four chasing 201 before recovering through Holder’s unbeaten 99 to win comfortably.
Holder conceded the campaign had been made difficult by the unfamiliarity with opposition players as well as the conditions.
“It was challenging. It was challenging from the aspect that we had not played against many of those teams before, we didn’t know many of the players and it was a chance for us to see what we were coming up against,” he said.
“When we plan, I try to focus on us and not focus on the opposition. I think once we handle our part of the plot, I think the rest of it would have taken care of itself.
“The conditions made it difficult as well [but] I think the conditions also levelled the playing field in terms of the opposition. If you check, many of the games were very, very close and there was some entertaining cricket played in Zimbabwe.”
He added: “I am glad that we did qualify for the tournament and it’s just a situation for us to build on that, get some more wins under our belt leading up to the 2019 World Cup.”