Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Tony Becca | The test for the WCup is on

Published:Friday | March 3, 2017 | 3:00 AM

Any cricket match is a lovely occasion, including the eye-catching, gay-abandon, ball-flying action of the recent T20 version of the game.

To me, however, and with all its excitement, that version of the game fails to match the classic, elegant, and majestic style and quality of a Test match, especially when it brings together two teams of quality players.

Cushioned in the middle, however, is the ODI version, the 50-over competition, the format which was made popular in 1975 with the inaugural World Cup, and the one which the West Indies won two times in succession before losing it in an upset on the third attempt, or so it was reported.

Intended as the tournament to save cricket, and to spread the game, when it was launched, it was a four-year competition and it was welcomed with open arms as the excitement grew and the weak matched skills with the strong and on many occasions cut them down to size.

Eventually also came the Champions Trophy in 1998 with an original intention of funding weaker countries, and with the West Indies winning it in 2004 after a brilliant, nail-biting finish engineered by Courtney Browne and Ian Bradshaw.

Since then, much has been the talk about what to do with both of them, and the ideas included to keep them both, to drop one of them, and to keep one of them.

The general feeling was that they only clogged up the calendar, and that cricket would be better off with only one of them.

That, in a nutshell, is where the arguments now stand, and the tournaments will be played, the Champions Trophy later this year, and the World Cup next year.

The problem with both competitions, however, especially for the West Indies, is that they have to qualify for the tournaments. They missed qualification for the Champions Trophy and only 10 teams will qualify for the World Cup. Only eight full teams automatically qualify for the World Cup while the other two will have to play in a qualifying tournament, along with Ireland and Afghanistan for the other two places.

 

WINNING QUALIFICATION

 

The West Indies are now languishing at number nine in the rankings, below Bangladesh and Pakistan and above only Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, and Ireland, and with a fight on their hands.

As things now stand, therefore, the West Indies, once the best ODI team in the world, will miss the Champions Trophy and are now faced with winning qualification for next year's world Cup with the cut-off time set for the September 30 this year.

They should make it, but may be only just about. They can get in ahead of Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Fortunately for the West Indies, their survival is more or less in their own hands. They play England in three ODIs starting today, they play Pakistan in three next month, and they play England in five in the middle of the year.

This time, ODIs are the most crucial, for the West Indies.