It's happened, but even taking into account events of recent years, it's still hard to believe.

The West Indies, winners of the first two World Cups in the 1970s and the game's most dominant force for a couple of decades, will have to qualify to compete at the 2019 edition of the 50-over tournament in England.

When they lost the opening ODI to England at Old Trafford this week, it ended their chances of overtaking Sri Lanka to claim the eighth and final automatic spot. It won't matter if they go on to win the current series. Too little, too late.

The cutoff date for sorting out the top eight is September 30, but the West Indies, on 78 points, can't overtake Sri Lanka, on 86.


Who'd have thought. That will lump the West Indies in with the likes of Zimbabwe, Ireland, Afghanistan, Scotland and the Netherlands to get one of the last two spots, in a tournament shamefully trimmed to 10 teams by the International Cricket Council.

How could things have come to this?

In truth, the West Indies, who arrive in New Zealand in late November for two tests, three ODIs and three T20s, have been ordinary for years.

Shambolic administration, players lacking sufficient pride and interest in making the West Indies great again, and the sizeable readies on offer from the raft of T20 tournaments around the globe have combined to produced this sorry state.

However one positive spinoff for New Zealand audiences is that the Windies are likely to include some of their best one-day cricketers, who have only occasionally available for international cricket, in the short form legs.

Take Chris Gayle, one of cricket's most successful limited-overs batsmen. He played in the loss at Old Trafford. It was his first match for the West Indies since their quarter-final loss to New Zealand in Wellington at the 2015 cup.

Blockbusting allrounder Andre Russell, serving out a year-long suspension for failing to attend drug tests, last played in November 2015; Kieron Pollard's been out for the last year; Dwayne Bravo, among the short form's most versatile allrounders, hasn't played an ODI since his 164th match in October 2014.

Their absence is only part of the problem.

They are ageing, and while there are encouraging shoots coming through, too often the attitude is lackadaisical. The upshot is that getting through the qualifying series won't be easy.

Ireland and Afghanistan have, rightly or wrongly, been allocated test status. They are keen and determined to make their mark.

The Netherlands, Papua New Guinea and Scotland are the leading contenders from the world league championship to make up the field, along with the two best from the second division of the world league, the likes of Namibia, Canada and Nepal.

The qualifying tournament is likely to be staged in Ireland and Scotland around July next year, after Bangladesh said thanks but no thanks to hosting it. That won't hurt the Irish and Scots chances either.

So how will the Windies treat the limited-overs leg of their New Zealand tour?

You'd like to think they will be serious about getting their game in order.

Now having them at the cup would not only be a shame, as they tend to be entertainers - and remember they've won two of the last three world T20 tournaments - but a travesty for a once-great cricket region; confirmation that they are stuck, head first down a deep hole.