West Indies coach Stuart Law is looking to the remainder of the one-day international series against England to help him build a settled team ahead of next year’s World Cup qualifying tournament.
Defeat in the first ODI at Old Trafford on Tuesday ended West Indies’ hopes of gaining direct entry to the 2019 World Cup in Britain.
Instead the two-time champions will now have to come through a qualifying tournament, set to take place in Zimbabwe early next year, if they are to secure a spot in the business end of the showpiece 50-over event.
West Indies reached the first three World Cup finals, all staged in England, winning the inaugural edition in 1975 and repeating that achievement in 1979 before suffering a shock defeat by India at Lord’s in the climax of the 1983 edition.
But this year saw the Caribbean side fail to qualify for the elite Champions Trophy one-day tournament as they were outside the world’s top eight 50-over teams.
So it was no surprise when West Indies missed out on an automatic place at the World Cup.
Following a washed-out second ODI at Nottingham’s Trent Bridge on Thursday, Law’s men only have three more matches in England — starting with Sunday’s fixture in Bristol — and a three-match ODI series in New Zealand scheduled before the qualifiers.
“Our plan is to go to Zimbabwe next year with a settled team, a team where everyone knows their roles and what they want to achieve,” Law told reporters at Trent Bridge.
“It’s a balancing act. I’d like to go to New Zealand with a team which is pretty settled before the qualifiers,” the former Australia batsman added.
Chris Gayle, who suffered a hamstring injury while warming-up at Trent Bridge, and fellow senior batsman Marlon Samuels returned for the limited-overs leg of West Indies’ tour after missing the preceding 2-1 Test series loss.
Meanwhile, spinner Sunil Narine could come back into the ODI side as well.
Narine was named man-of-the-match in the West Indies’ win over England in the lone Twenty20 international of the tour at Chester-le-Street on Saturday, as they repeated their World Twenty20 final win against the same opponents in Kolkata last year.
Narine, however, has said he wants to play domestic one-day cricket before returning at international level — his last ODI was 11 months ago.
“Sunil Narine showed his class in the T20. He stated he wanted to get some 50-over cricket in, which is fair enough, but if he decides he wants to give ODIs a go he’d be one of the first picks with the spin he provides,” said Law.
West Indies could also soon be welcoming back Andre Russell, with the big-hitting all-rounder due to complete a one-year ban for missed drugs tests on January 31, 2018.
“Most people would be excited to have a guy like Andre Russell champing at the bit to play international cricket,” Law said.
But Law is aware of the need to steer a path between recalling star names and backing the current squad.
“It’s a balancing act because what some players bring is extraordinary and you don’t want to nullify that effect,” he said.
Law added: “We’ve still got some selectorial conversations to have, to understand if we have the best players to take this team forward.
“This group I feel has a lot of good, that’s why they are here.”