The first-ever One-Day International (ODI) was played between Australia and England in 1971 in Melbourne. But, the first-ever superstars in the format were the men from the Caribbean.
Led by a devious captain, who was more known as a Field General - Clive Lloyd - the West Indies ruled the world of ODI cricket in the 70s. They lifted the World Cup trophies in the first two editions of the tournament in 1975 and 1979.
Both the World Cups were played in England and the Windies won the coveted trophies by defeating Australia and the hosts in the two finals, respectively.
In the third edition of the World Cup in 1983, the defending champions were once again the favourites to triumph along with the likes of England and Australia.
However, Kapil Dev's Indian team eventually turned out to be the dark horses as they brought an end to the West Indian reign. More than the loss, the manner of the loss was impactful.
The West Indian batting line-up capitulated at the Lord's - the same venue where they had won their previous two World Cup finals - as the defending champions bundled out cheaply for 140 while chasing a mere target of 184.
India started as one of the lower-ranked sides in the tournament and was not even expected to make it to the next round. Ever since the West Indies lost to India in 1983 final, they have not managed to recover and get back to being one of the top teams in the 50-over format.
While the Australians have become the most successful ODI side with five Cups to their name, West Indies has never come close to having their hand on a third trophy.
Fast-forwarding 36 years, England are once again the hosts of the World Cup. But, the teams and their performances have changed drastically since the 20th century.
While West Indies has just two World Cup titles, India has added one more to their cabinet, which they won under MS Dhoni's captaincy in 2011.
Once a champion cricketing nation, West Indies, has experienced major lows in recent times. Since they fell out of top-eight, they missed out on the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. They were forced to play the qualifiers before they progressed to the main draw of World Cup 2019.
Will Jason Holder turn tables around?
When they enter the multi-nation tournament later in the month in England, they'll be in a similar position as India was in 1983. Except, West Indies has a rich history in ODI cricket, India had none.
West Indies managed to reach the quarter-final in World Cup 2015, which they lost to New Zealand by a huge margin of 143 runs. Jason Holder was a rookie when he was made the captain just a couple of months prior to the World Cup.
Going into the World Cup, 23-year-old Holder had an experience of leading the team in five ODIs and out of which, Windies had won just one game. However, West Indies' World Cup winning skipper, Clive Llyod backed the young Holder for the role.
Following West Indies' exit from the World Cup 2015, it was anticipated that Holder would inspire the Men in Maroon in the coming months.
While he tried everything possible to make this West Indies side a formidable force in the ODIs, he himself struggled to strike a balance between his role as the team's prime all-arounder and as the captain.
In the entire year of 2015, he conceded way too many runs as a bowler but his batting ensured he retained his confidence in himself as he averaged close to 35 in the season after the World Cup 2015.
He had the determination and capability to bounce back. He was given the captaincy at a very young age because the side needed a fresh approach and Holder's all-around numbers, since his debut, aided him to the role.
Before taking over as West Indies's captain, Holder's bowling average was less than 29 and already had picked 29 wickets in 21 matches. Nevertheless, as time passed, Holder has evolved and matured as a captain.
In the last three years, Holder has played 58 games, scored 1,140 runs at 26.51 and has bagged 72 scalps at 34.72.
One of the biggest strengths of Holder has been his mental toughness. Even though he has created an amazing atmosphere in the dressing room, the side has failed to do anything significant in the ODIs in the last four years.
To put their misery in perspective, West Indies has not won a single ODI series since the World Cup 2015. Out of the 15 series they have played so far, Holder and company have drawn two and lost 13.
They even failed to defeat a lower-ranked side like Afghanistan, who in turn white-washed them in the shortest format.
Holder's young army
Despite that, Holder has ensured that the team is focussed on their goals to change things in the coming future. Under the captaincy of Holder, West Indies has had quite a few young players flourishing such as Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Nicholas Pooran and Shannon Gabriel.
Hope, who made his ODI debut in 2016, has been Windies' top-scorer in the ODIs since the previous World Cup with 2,086 runs at 49.66 in 52 matches.
Holder comes second on that list with 1,195 runs at 26.55 in 60 games. Meanwhile, Hetmyer, who made his debut just two years back is already one of the key players of the West Indian ODI side. He has already collected as many as 899 runs at 40.86 in 25 matches.
Although West Indies have toured England for a bilateral series just twice in the last seven years, the most recent one saw some exceptional performance from the away players.
They drew the five-match series 2-2 and one match got abandoned due to rain. The series saw West Indies' senior-most batsman, Chris Gayle smash two centuries and two fifties. He carried the same form into the IPL 2019 and because of that, he was named in the World Cup squad.
Evin Lewis, who has not played an ODI since 2018, is West Indies' third highest run-scorer since World Cup 2015 with 1,010 runs at 32.58. Considering his highest ODI score of an unbeaten 176 came in England, he could be seen opening for his side with Gayle in the upcoming World Cup.
Moreover, the recent IPL has witnessed some of the West Indies players single-handedly turning the game around. The format might be different, but the weather conditions in England in June-July could force the teams to change their strategies into T20 cricket in several games.
A lot of rain interruptions is expected during the World Cup and if that happens, West Indies team, which includes an array of global T20 players, could benefit the most.
Moreover, they have brought Russell back into the team, who has played just two ODIs in the last four years. However, he is the guy who almost took his IPL franchise, Kolkata Knight Riders into the playoffs single-handedly with an injured arm. His current form, as an all-rounder, comes in as a massive boost for West Indies.
The grounds like Trent Bridge and Rose Bowl, where West Indies is going to play four games in total, have produced huge totals since 2015.
For that matter, even the likes of Leeds and Headingley, Windies' other venues in the World Cup, come in a similar fashion. Since the West Indies are not boosted with world-class pacers, the likes of Holder, Gabriel, Kemar Roach and others will have to be at their best to stop the opposition from scoring big.
The management has done a fair job in their selection of the players. They have given a blend of experienced campaigners as well as young faces to Holder for his expedition to England.
Now, it's time for the players to repay the trust. While the West Indians go into the World Cup as a No. 9 ranked side, they have the talent and power to shock any side by being a dark horse in the World Cup.
(Featured Image: Twitter/Jason Holder)
About the Author
More than a sport, sportspersons have kept her engaged in work. She is a sports fanatic whose mantra in life is “do only what you enjoy". She tweets @sakshi2929.