A victory for West Indies against New Zealand in their cricket World Cup quarter-final on Saturday would be “huge” for fans back in the Caribbean eager to put months of controversy behind them, according to captain Jason Holder.
West Indies, who looked unlikely quarter-finalists at the start of the World Cup, lurched into the knockout phase of the tournament on the final day of pool play with a six-wicket victory over United Arab Emirates.
A bitter row between players and administrators late last year forced the cancellation of a series in India and when the squad was named for the World Cup, all-rounders Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard were left out.
Their omission prompted fury from team mates, most notably opening batsman Chris Gayle who labelled the decision ‘ridiculous’ and as ‘victimisation’ after the pair had been seen as the chief protagonists in the war with the administrators.
West Indies appointed the 23-year-old Holder as captain for the January series in South Africa, which they lost 4-1, and when they lost their first World Cup match against Ireland in Nelson, the doom and gloom merchants started circling.
Holder, however, said a victory in Saturday’s quarter-final at Wellington Regional Stadium would be seen as an important turn-around for the side.
“Obviously there have been obstacles and obviously there will be difficult times,” said Holder at the Basin Reserve on Friday.
“(The quarter-final) is a huge thing for us. People pretty much wrote us off at the beginning of the tournament. They didn’t expect us to get to the quarter-final stage and now we’re here. We’re just going out all guns blazing Saturday and just giving it our all.”
Holder and Darren Sammy earlier in the week tried to put the pressure on co-hosts New Zealand, saying Brendon McCullum’s side had to meet the expectations of home fans eager for success.
“In terms of losing games, you will lose cricket games,” Holder said in reference to the fact his side had beaten just UAE, Zimbabwe and a Pakistan side struggling to get going early in the tournament.
“But the main thing is we’re here Saturday in this quarter-final and we’re looking to win it.
“New Zealand can be beaten. We beat them in the last series when we played them here and no doubt we will be looking to beat them on Saturday.”