WE suspect that West Indies cricket coach, Mr Phil Simmons still feels acute discomfort from memories of his team’s shock 1-2 defeat to Ireland in a One-Day International (ODI) series at Sabina Park in January.
Hence, no one should be surprised at his assertion that the West Indies will take nothing for granted against lowly ranked The Netherlands in a three-match ODI series in that country starting Tuesday.
“The first thing you have to realise [about this series] is that it’s cricket and [The Netherlands] have been playing cricket for a long time now. They qualify for World Cups,” Mr Simmons told journalists earlier this week.
He could also have added that like the Irish, the Dutch — better known for their attractive, stylish football — have a history of upsetting the odds at cricket.
At the 2009 ICC T20 World Cup, at Lord’s of all places, The Netherlands defeated England by four wickets. And as if to prove that was no fluke, they repeated the dose at the 2014 T20 World Cup, beating England by 45 runs.
In other words, there is absolutely no reason for West Indies to underestimate their hosts.
As outlined by Mr Simmons, the series takes on added importance because the West Indies are trying desperately to qualify automatically for next year’s ODI World Cup in India.
We are told that the tour to The Netherlands is the first-ever ODI series between the two teams. It forms part of the ICC ODI Super League, the top seven of which gain automatic qualification for the 2023 World Cup.
The West Indies will head to powerful Pakistan immediately after, for another three-match series.
In terms of automatic qualification for next year’s World Cup, the West Indies are not in a good place. The Caribbean Media Corporation reminds us that West Indies are coming off three successive series defeats — swept 3-0 away to India in February and prior to that going down to Ireland and to Australia.
In fact, the West Indies have won just three of their last 10 ODI series, which is why they are now a lowly ninth in the ICC rankings.
Crucially, while new Captain Mr Nicholas Pooran has led West Indies previously in white-ball cricket in the absence of Mr Kieron Pollard, he is now his own man following the latter’s recent retirement from international cricket.
Mr Pooran will be without a number of other senior players, including former captain and current all-format player Mr Jason Holder, who is being rested, and the highly talented batsman Mr Shimron Hetmyer who has made himself unavailable.
These two series in The Netherlands and Pakistan represent an opportunity for Mr Pooran to stamp his personality as leader, even as he strives to dominate opposition bowlers.
Says Mr Simmons: “There’s a new captain and he’s got to get the knitting of this team together so that everything flows...”
We recognise that it was an entirely different format, but for all that, a number of players on this white-ball trip were part of the triumphant red-ball group which upset the odds by beating England 1-0 in a three-Test series in the Caribbean earlier this year. After that experience there should be considerable confidence in the West Indies camp. We wish them well.