A successful campaign at the World Cup will not only end a four-decade-long drought but will also unite the people of the Caribbean, feels West Indies skipper Jason Holder. “It would mean a lot to us if we were to win it. It’s something we’ve won before and it’s always said in the Caribbean that if West Indies cricket is doing well then the West Indian people are happy,” Holder told ‘The Guardian’. West Indies, who are the reigning Twenty20 champions, have a proud history at the ODI World Cup, winning the first two editions of the tournament in 1975 and 1979 and making the final of the third. However, after struggling for nearly two decades, a few stunning wins against England in Tests recently lifted their spirits.
“You saw it in the recent England series. Everywhere we went in the Caribbean, people were full of high praise for our efforts and winning performances. “Success on the cricket field puts a smile on West Indian faces. Seeing us succeed and even dominate again gave the whole region a huge lift. Hopefully, we can continue to bring the people of the region closer,” the 27-year-old said. Holder, who is West Indies’ youngest captain, believes that the return of big-hitter Chris Gayle can boost the confidence of the side.
“Chris is an excellent individual. Prior to the England series, I said I’ve never batted with him in a one-day game. Lo, and behold I went in and he was at the crease. He gave me a big hug, and that meant a lot personally. He was an outstanding man of the series. “I batted with him when he got that 162. I’m sure the many batting partners Chris has had over the years would say it’s a great spectacle to see him flay bowlers all over the park. He can really fire us to the heights in this tournament.”
West Indies were saved the blushes after heavy rain helped them qualify for the World Cup by the narrowest of margins against Scotland. “I never once thought it could slip away. We felt in control most of the games but, yes, it was a different dynamic. We had never played a qualifier tournament to reach a World Cup before.
“Adding to the competition we had furious opposition who wanted to take us down. We also didn’t know much about them and it was a different challenge. Credit to our boys for coming through some high-pressure situations. We held our nerve and the cricket we’ve played this year gives me real confidence,” Holder said.