Win early Windies - Holder notes importance of strong start to World Cup
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, (CMC):
West Indies captain Jason Holder has stressed the importance of a strong start to next year's World Cup in England, especially with the change of format in the competition.
For the first time since the 1992 edition, all 10 teams will play each other in the preliminary round, with the top four qualifying for the all-important semi-finals.
In the last two World Cups, the preliminary round was divided into two groups with the top four teams from each group progressing to the quarter-finals. Previous tournaments also involved separate groups in the preliminaries and a Super Six or Super Eight second stage.
"I think the format is interesting. I guess it is one we've got to adjust to and just find a win early up in the competition," Holder said.
"I think it is always important to start the competition with a win and I think once we start with a win, it will ease the pressure off going into the end of the tournament. We're going to focus primarily on starting well.
West Indies have difficult opening fixtures, beginning their campaign against Pakistan on May 31 in Nottingham, before taking on reigning world champions Australia at the same venue on June 6.
Four days later, they clash with South Africa in Southampton and then face a tricky assignment against hosts England on June 14, also at the Hampshire Bowl.
Holder said he was aware the Windies were underdogs for the event, but was comfortable with that label.
"Funny enough we went into the World Cup qualifiers being the favourites and now we've qualified for the 2019 World Cup, I guess we're underdogs at this current time," he noted.
"So for us, it's just keeping our underdogs tag and going in to upset some of the bigger teams."