Qualifier not an embarrassing route, argues Holder
BELFAST, Ireland, CMC:
Captain Jason Holder does not believe West Indies having to play in a qualifying tournament to reach the 2019 World Cup in England is an embarrassment for the Caribbean side.
Hosts England and the remaining top seven teams in the ICC rankings at the September 30 cut-off date will earn direct qualification to the showpiece.
But with the Windies languishing ninth, they face the increasing likelihood of having to contest a 10-nation qualifier - comprising ICC associate nations like the Netherlands and Scotland - in order to secure one of the last two World Cup spots.
"I don't think it is embarrassing," Holder said following Wednesday's rained-out one-day international against Ireland.
"The World Cup is of such that teams like Ireland have come into world events and done really well and beat big teams before, as well as other smaller teams, so I don't think it's embarrassing.
"We are where we are, and if we do have to play in them (qualifiers), we will take it one step at a time."
The abandoned ODI at Stormont saw the Windies' hopes of direct qualification suffer yet another blow. They needed to beat the Irish as well as also defeat England at least 4-1 in the upcoming five-match series starting next week.
However, the Windies can now ill-afford to lose any of the contests against England, leaving them with little margin of error.
Holder, who also led the Windies at the last World Cup in 2015 in Australia and New Zealand, said their ultimate goal was to qualify for the tournament regardless of the route.
"We're at the stage where we are looking to turn a corner and qualify for the World Cup, whether we have to go through the qualifiers or qualify automatically," he pointed out.
"We're excited for the (England) series, and hopefully, we can play some good cricket."
West Indies received a major boost for the series with the return of leading players Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels, after Cricket West Indies relaxed its stringent eligibility rules, allowing the duo to be in line for selection.
Several other players like brothers Darren and Dwayne Bravo, along with Sunil Narine, could also still make a return next year, and Holder hopes that the added experience, coupled with the side's young talent, can lead to positive results.
"We are still a work-in progress and hopefully, more players are coming back," Holder said.
The first ODI against England bowls off at Old Trafford next Tuesday.