Lahore : Chris Gayle led the Windies’ celebrations after the two-time former world champions qualified for next year’s ICC Cricket World Cup, which will take place in England and Wales from 30 May to 14 July.
The Windies defeated Scotland by five runs by the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern Method on Wednesday after the defending champions were 125 for five in 34.2 overs, while chasing 199 for victory, when rain prevented any further play in what was turning into a thrilling match.
Asked if he thought he had achieved his mission of coming to Zimbabwe to help the Windies qualify for the World Cup, Gayle said: “Mission accomplished, definitely. It has been a long journey and the process we have gone through to qualify, we still have to give thanks even though it was a rain interrupted game today, but a win is a win.
“I am so happy to have qualified for another World Cup., I just have to stay fit now and we have a young team, but it will be my last World Cup that is for sure, so I am looking forward to it.”
Gayle said he had thoroughly enjoyed the tournament and was delighted to see the passion amongst the Zimbabwe fans.
“It has been a great tournament, the support here in Zimbabwe is always fantastic. It has been quite a while since I have been here, the people have been fantastic. We have come and accomplished what we came for.”
Talking about his hunger for more success, Gayle said: “The fans drive you, people always say Chris we want to see you back in Windies colours, want to see you play Test cricket in the whites again and I say one more time I will do it for you guys.
“I will take on the journey and next year will play for them again and I look forward to it.
“I need a couple (of) months to get properly fit and especially I love playing in England and Wales. Lots of the Windies fans over the world are sad that we are in this position, where we have to play the qualifiers. But, cricket is like life, you have ups and downs, and nothing is guaranteed in life.”
The Windies coach, Stuart Law, said: “The journey we have been on for the last year, we have had some bad times, some reasonable times. We came here to qualify for the World Cup, and we have played some pretty good cricket along the way. Today, we were pushed by Scotland, credit to them, they fought hard.”
Law praised his players for the way they fought in Wednesday’s match.
“For Marlon Samuels to come in at two for two and put on 121 runs was crucial once again. It would have been nice if Samuels or Evin Lewis had gone further into the innings, but they absorbed pressure and managed to get enough on the board.
“Credit to Scotland. They fought hard too, and we were lucky enough to pick up a couple of wickets. Nurse, Kemar Roach and Jason Holder bowled their hearts out. All round very happy with where we are.
“We can now sit down and plan for the Cricket World Cup which is good. We can get this out of the way and go home and start thinking about what we are going to do and how we are going to play in English conditions.”
The Windies captain Jason Holder said the people of the Caribbean should be proud of his side.
“I don’t think it (the qualification) has sunk in yet. We have been through a lot. We were bruised, we have been hurt and we have copped a lot of criticism in the past couple of years. To come into this competition, where there was so much pressure and to produce the cricket we have to qualify for the World Cup is pleasing.
“I have been very anxious, and nervous, it has been the general feeling around the whole team. One thing is that we came together for the whole tournament, that was the determining factor, we wanted the same result and we were fighting for the same cause.
“It is a great achievement to qualify for the Cricket World Cup, I pride myself on leading from the front and all the other guys have backed me up. The people in the West Indies should be really proud of us to qualify for the World Cup. It is the first time we have played in the Cricket World Cup Qualifier. To handle ourselves the way we did was really pleasing, I am sure everyone back home is smiling.”
The Windies fast bowler Kemar Roach said it was a tough game and now he was looking forward to his third World Cup. “It was a tough game, 198 wasn’t enough, so we had belief and wanted to make it as tough as possible for the Scottish to win the game, the weather was in our favour today and we are into the finals.
“It is my job and role to get wickets up front and I think I did a pretty good job today, could have been a little better, getting the win for the Windies was the most important thing.
“Definitely looking forward to the ICC Cricket World Cup it will be my third World Cup, if I am selected, it will be a great honour for me to play in that, and we will have to work hard to bring it home. The pressure we put the people under back home is tough, I want to say sorry, but that is the West Indies, that’s how we play, we keep people on the edge of their seats.”