Having been a part of a team which dominated the sport for numerous years, former West Indies wicket-keeper Jeff Dujon admits to being pained by their present-day fortunes. With only the top eight nations gaining automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup, they are languishing near the border-line and the upcoming ODI series against Pakistan might place them in danger if results do not go their way.
Speaking to ESPNCricinfo from London where he was attending a Lord’s Taverners event for wicket-keepers, the 60-year-old also did not believe in the explanation given for Phil Simmons’ sacking and rued the lack of a proper coaching group in the West Indies camp.
Dujon affirmed, “It would be a terrible embarrassment for West Indies to not automatically qualify. It would be damaging for any team who has tasted what it's like to be in the top echelon of world cricket. As someone who played in a very successful era, it's very embarrassing but it has to be an indication of exactly where we are at and something needs to be done.”
He added, “It hurts. We can't be fooled by the fact that we've just won two tournaments - the World T20 and the U-19 World Cup. The fact we are still struggling to qualify shows we shouldn't get carried away with that.”
Dujon’s fears have some significance with West Indies already missing out on the 2017 Champions Trophy in UK after falling beyond the top eight on September 30 last year which was the cut-off date for qualification.
For the 2019 World Cup which will also happen in England & Wales, the top seven teams apart from the host nation as of September 30 next year will secure automatic entry. The remaining two spots in the tournament are set to be decided by a qualifying competition involving the bottom four sides as well as the top four from the World League Championship.
Following a 0-3 whitewash at the hands of Pakistan in the T20I series, West Indies need to lift their morale quickly as such a score-line in the ODIs will see them swap places with their opponents in the rankings. Without a full-time head coach, the Caribbean outfit are struggling to formulate proper strategies to respond to the slow and low pitches at UAE.
Although his erstwhile team mate and iconic pacer Joel Garner is guiding the team as manager, Dujon claimed, “The sacking of Phil Simmons was a surprise. I'm not sure we have the real reasons, what we were given were a bit sketchy. It's disappointing for me that we haven't been able to find a settled situation in the coaching area which would give the team some direction. It's a setback. Jason Holder as captain also still has a lot to prove so things are in a pretty unstable situation now.“
With the ODI series beginning on Friday at Sharjah, West Indies will be aware that massive improvement might be required in all departments of the game if they are to wrest the momentum away from Pakistan.