West Indies Arrive in Zimbabwe to Kickstart Qualification Bid
HARARE, Zimbabwe – West Indies received a rousing welcome at the
Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport here Sunday evening as
they became the first team to arrive for the ICC World Cup Qualifiers
starting next month.
A traditional dance group put on a cultural extravaganza at the airport,
with dozens of local cricket fans also on hand to greet the two-time
former 50-overs World Cup champions.
Members of the Local Organising Committee and government
representatives also welcomed the Caribbean side.
“We are really excited to be here. It’s a lovely place,” Windies captain
Jason Holder said.
“The last time we came here we had great success and hopefully on this
tour we’ll have success again and qualify for the 2019 World Cup.
“We are well supported here . . . the fans here adore cricket, they are big
cricket fans, they love us and we love them so we have come here to put
on a really good show for them, entertain them and make them happy.”
Another batch of Windies players and officials are expected to touch
down on Monday.
The Caribbean side are one of 10 teams down to do battle in the March
4-25 tournament, as they vie for the remaining two spots at the
showpiece in England next year.
West Indies open their campaign on March 6 against United Arab
Emirates, who won the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 last week,
to book their spot in the qualifiers.
They, along with Ireland, the Netherlands and Papua New Guinea
comprise Group A while Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Scotland, Hong Kong
and Nepal form Group B.
The top three from each group will advance to the Super Sixes, where
they will each play three matches against teams they did not meet in the
The finalists will secure the final two berths at the ICC World Cup from
May 30 to July 15 next year.
Queens Sports Club and Bulawayo Athletic Club in Bulawayo, Harare
Sports Club and Old Hararians Sports Club in Harare and Kwekwe
Sports Club, Kwekwe, will share the 34 matches in the qualifying
tournament, with Harare Sports Club staging the final.
West Indies missed out on automatic qualification for the World Cup after
finishing outside the top eight in the ICC one-day rankings at the
September 30 cut-off date last year. – CMC