Holder: Every match in WCL a must-win
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC):
West Indies captain Jason Holder says planning has already begun for the ICC World Cup qualifiers in March, as the Caribbean side looks to book its spot in the 2019 one-day showpiece in England.
The schedule for the much-anticipated qualifiers was released by the International Cricket Council (ICC) yesterday, with West Indies installed in Group A along with Ireland, the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea and the winners of the ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division 2 tournament from February 8-15 in Namibia.
"We see this as a very important tournament," the 26-year-old Holder said of the March 4-25 campaign in Zimbabwe.
"We all know the magnitude and importance of this event as we look to qualify for the World Cup in the United Kingdom next year.
"It will be a challenge, and we sat down and have formulated plans as to how best to approach the tournament."
West Indies open their bid on March 6 against the yet-to-be-determined WCL Division 2 winners before taking on Papua New Guinea two days later.
On March 10, they face their sternest test of the competition against Ireland before wrapping up against the Netherlands.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP PLAY
Group play will be on a round-robin basis, with the top three advancing to the Super Six stage, where each side will then play three matches against the sides they did not meet in the group stage.
The top two teams will qualify for the final and also book their spots at the World Cup.
Holder, who has led West Indies in one-day internationals (ODIs) for the last three years, said it was important that his side approach the tournament with an aggressive mindset.
"It will be short and we will treat every match as a must-win game," the all-rounder pointed out.
"With three teams from each group moving into the Super Sixes, and the top two moving to the final - thereby earning a spot at the World Cup - there is all to play for."
Two-time former World Cup champions West Indies were forced into the qualifiers after missing out on direct qualification because of their ninth-placed ranking in the ICC charts.
England as hosts, and the remaining top seven in the rankings, qualified automatically for the showpiece, set to run from May 30 to July 15.
West Indies had entered 2017 battling to achieve the number eight spot but lost 16 of 22 ODIs in the calendar year, while winning just three matches to remain rooted in ninth.
Last September, they were beaten 4-0 by England in a five-match series and were whitewashed by New Zealand in a three-match series last month.