Cricket World Cup qualification on the line


(Jamaica Observer) We note Mr Christopher Gayle’s kind words about the West Indies team which lost 1-3 to India in their One-Day International (ODI) series which ended last week.

The global star and former West Indies captain who made his long-awaited return to regional colours in winning style yesterday in a one-off Twenty20 International against India, argued that Mr Jason Holder’s youthful ODI team needs time to blossom. Furthermore, he pointed out, West Indies were never expected to beat powerful India in the recent ODI series.

Said Mr Gayle: “Nothing is wrong with the team (West Indies), they are just playing against a top team that just went to the Champions Trophy final, so it wasn’t going to be a pushover, and, at the same time, India was always favoured to beat the West Indies.

“It is a young team and it’s a learning experience, as well. These young West Indians will be the future, so we have to give them some time to blossom and get some credibility under their belts and take it step by step.”

True. The trouble, though, is that the West Indies ODI side has very little time if it is to qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2019. It’s already a virtual certainty that the Caribbean team ranked ninth — well behind eighth-placed Sri Lanka — will not be among the eight automatic qualifiers.

The ODI side now finds itself under far more pressure than the Test match squad which has shown gradual improvement over the last year, and will be hoping to continue that forward movement in England next month.

As the situation now stands, the ODI team will have to play off against so-called lesser teams in order to qualify for Cricket World Cup 2019. Make no mistake about it, that won’t be as easy as it may sound. Cricket watchers need only recall the recent struggles against Afghanistan, as well as the current performances by Zimbabwe against Sri Lanka, to appreciate the extent of the task ahead.

Obviously the archaic eligibility rule which has rendered some of the region’s leading professionals — including Mr Gayle — ineligible for selection to ODI and Test match teams has made the situation worse. This newspaper had expected that by now efforts to amend, even erase this rule, so that the best players can be available to the selectors would have borne fruit.

Other unhealthy issues dividing players and cricket administration, such as the long-running ‘Big Idiot’ episode which has made top-of-the-line batsman Mr Darren Bravo unavailable, add to the problems.

The regional administrators, now renamed Cricket West Indies, must learn to deal with such issues professionally and with dispatch if they are to command respect and credibility; and at the same time encourage a greater confidence among players.

Cricket West Indies will be well aware that for the current political order, failure to qualify for the ICC 2019 World Cup would be a disaster of gigantic proportions.

Note the question from prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gosalves. On what basis, he asks, does Cricket West Indies, a private entity, reserve the right to administer West Indies cricket all on its own?

It’s a question that will continue to be asked with ever-increasing intensity, unless there is change for the better, on and off the field.


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