West Indies will open their Men’s ODI World Cup qualifier tournament against the United States of America on June 18, followed by facing Nepal, hosts Zimbabwe and the Netherlands in the group stages.
West Indies lifted the first two ICC Men’s Cricket World Cups, in 1975 and 1979, but have not been back to the final since. They finished ninth in the group stage in England four years ago, winning just twice in nine matches.
Confidence is key for all-rounder Keemo Paul as he and his West Indies teammates try to qualify for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.
The 25-year-old has returned to the ODI squad for the first time since July 2022 and will hope to help the two-time champions advance from the Qualifier in Zimbabwe.
West Indies enter the tournament under the guidance of a new coach in the form of Daren Sammy.
Pace all-rounder, Keemo Paul believes Sammy, 39, has already left an impact on the side aiming to seal one of two spots for the ODI World Cup later this year.
“It’s really good to have a legend like Daren Sammy around, he has a very calm demeanor. He is a very cool guy. The players feel really, really good and really, really comfortable. He also brings a lot of energy and motivation to the camp,” said Paul to ICC.
The confidence Paul feels in himself also spreads to the wider team, with the Guyana-born player not willing to consider anything other than qualification. “I wouldn’t say not qualifying would be a failure, but I wouldn’t look down that road because I think we’ll definitely qualify.”
“In life, I don’t see anything as a failure. It’s all about learning and moving forward. I’m pretty confident and that’s the mood in the camp. We’re up for it, so I definitely think that we will qualify,” he added.
Paul, 25, has returned to the West Indies ODI squad for the first time since July 2022. With him being in and out of the international side in recent years, he credits mental toughness for helping him overcome that phase.
“I’ve been out for a while and to come back, I’m just really excited to play some cricket and to perform back amongst my friends, people that I call my second family. I’ve always been a hard worker, but I would say I’ve had to dial in more on specifics and get mentally tough to get back here. Cricket is all about being mentally strong. It was just about speaking to the right people, getting the right motivation, and also motivating myself.”
With lead selector Desmond Haynes signaling him as a match-winner, Paul believes a match-winning showing is not far away.
“I definitely think I’m a match winner, I always try to be positive, I always try to be my own hype man. I just try to motivate myself as much as possible. People may say that I am a match-winner, but I want to prove it.”
“I’m at a stage now in my career, where I need to do better and where I need to actually stand up as a match-winner and put in those performances. Every game, I go there with that mentality now to be a match-winner, so, I think it is going to come very, very soon.”