Barbados: The rigours of having to go through a qualifying tournament to even take part in the 2019 cricket World Cup notwithstanding, West Indies captain Jason Holder urged supporters to back the team as they begin their campaign to earn a place in the pinnacle ICC tournament.
"All the guys are motivated and we know what's at stake. I see it as an opportunity for us to grab some momentum heading into next year's World Cup, get some games under our belt, finalise our combinations, get things right and hopefully turn things around in terms of the ODI format," Holder was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo on Tuesday.
"It's probably one of our weaker formats and no doubt that we've been inconsistent. Obviously, it's something we've addressed and moving forward, I think hopefully we should see some good performances," he added.
"I think everybody understands the importance of being in a World Cup. We've obviously won the World Cup on two occasions and I think we're trying to formulate our plans in terms of getting a third.
"We've done well in T20 cricket, we've done well in women's cricket, Under-19 cricket, so now I think it's about time we win another World Cup in the ODI format."
West Indies were once the powerhouse of the sport, laying their hands on the World Cup in back-to-back editions of 1975 and 1979.
The Windies have been an automatic pick in each of the past 11 editions.
West Indies made it to the quarterfinal of the 2015 World Cup, but since then they have won only 8 out of 42 ODIs. Their win-loss ratio of 0.2 is the poorest of all the teams that have played the format over the past three years.
"We have put ourselves in this situation," he said. "We have got only ourselves to blame. We are here for a reason. Our form of late hasn't been the best.
It is a matter for us to put that behind and make things right. It is something new for us.
"We never had to qualify for the World Cup. It will be a new challenge. All these Associate teams tend to play fearless cricket, play quite aggressive cricket, trying to take down the bigger nations."
In the qualifying tournament, 10 teams will vie for two spots.
West Indies would fancy their chances owing to the return of key players.
Chris Gayle has come off a two-year ODI hiatus in 2017. Marlon Samuels, who has a history of saving his best for World Cups, is also back in the squad having missed their most recent 50-over assignment in New Zealand.
"I must commend a guy like Chris, also a guy like Marlon, who've come here with that motivation to do well for West Indies and give us a chance to play another World Cup. As I said, it's an opportunity to finish their careers well. It's also an opportunity for guys to make a spark in their career and start their careers in the World Cup."
West Indies will be facing teams that have done well against them in the recent past. In 2017, they lost to Afghanistan. In 2016, with a place in a tri-series final on the line, they were beaten by Zimbabwe. And Ireland knocked them over with ease in the last World Cup. Nevertheless, Holder was confident his players will put their best foot forward.
West Indies play their first match against the UAE on March 6.