West Indies will need to smash hosts England in the upcoming one-day international series to avoid the ignominy of being forced to qualify for the World Cup after a washout against Ireland on Wednesday.
The game at Stormont was scrapped without a ball being bowled after fresh rain followed an overnight soaking for the pitch, leaving the umpires with no choice.
It means the 1975 and 1979 World Cup winners will have to beat England 5-0 or 4-0 with either a tie or a no-result in order to qualify ahead of eighth-placed Sri Lanka, who are eight points ahead in the rankings.
Only the top seven ODI sides, apart from hosts England, currently ranked fourth, as of September 30 will qualify directly for the 50-over showpiece event in 2019.
Teams that do not gain direct entry will get another shot through a qualifying tournament.
West Indies captain Jason Holder said qualifying automatically would be a tough task but he is looking forward to the series, which starts in Manchester next week.
“England are a quality cricket side and they are playing at home,” said the skipper.
“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. We’re excited for the series and hopefully we can play some good cricket.
“It won’t be an embarrassment to play in the qualifiers. We are where we are and if we do have to play in them, we will take it one step at a time.”
The West Indies, who lost the recent Test series against England 2-1, have been boosted by the return of Chris Gayle while Marlon Samuels will join up with the squad after a family bereavement.
“We are still a work in progress and hopefully more players are coming back,” said Holder.
“Meantime, we have a young group of players challenging for places and hopefully they can come in and make their presence felt and feel more comfortable in the international arena.”
Holder was disappointed at missing out on playing on Wednesday but could not disagree with the umpires’ decision.
“Very disappointed. It was set to be a good occasion for Irish cricket and it’s great to be here, albeit it’s very, very cold,” he said.
“It’s just unfortunate the weather intervened but it was very wet out there nd the last shower settled it.”
The abandonment means Ireland are still waiting to play their first match against a Test-playing side since being granted full member status by the International Cricket Council in June.
West Indies fly to England on Thursday ahead of a one-off Twenty20 international at Chester-le-Street on Saturday. The ODI series starts at Old Trafford on September 19.—AFP