Associate member Hong Kong looms as the likely replacement for the West Indies if the two-time world champions decide to pull out of the 2015 Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand,
The Windies withdrew from their tour of India last week due to a contractual dispute between its players and the West Indies Player’s Association, leaving the host nation fuming.
Doubt now hangs over the West Indies’ involvement in future tours, and if the pay issue is not resolved come February, Hong Kong, who finished third in the World Cup Qualifier tournament in New Zealand earlier this year, are the clear choice to replace the men from the Caribbean.
Quick Single: WICB confirms tour withdrawal
Despite not being contacted by the International Cricket Council as yet, Hong Kong coach Charlie Burke says it would be a dream come true for his players.
"It's out of [the ICC's] control, it's out of our control as well. I mean, if we were given a spot at next year's World Cup, we'd grab it with both hands," Burke told Fairfax media.
"It's not the best situation or the best circumstances to be in a World Cup, but then again it's a dream for every single player for my squad.
“We haven't spoken to anyone, no-one's spoken to us as yet, but we've heard rumours saying that could happen and they might pull out."
In a further blow to the Windies, the Board of Control for Cricket in India said on Tuesday it would “initiate legal proceedings”, with the damages of the abandoned India tour estimated at a whopping $US65 million ($70 million).
The Windies left India following the fourth one-day international in Dharamsala with one ODI, two Tests and a T20 international remaining.
The BCCI has since suspended India’s tour to the Caribbean in February and March in 2016 that included three Tests, five ODIs and a T20 match.
Cricket Australia chairman Wally Edwards commented on the West Indies Cricket crisis and stressed the importance of a quick resolution.
“The situation that has just unfolded, with the West Indian players abandoning the remainder of the Indian tour, is deeply concerning for a game that needs strong cooperation for its survival,” Edwards said.
“We are a long way from what has taken place in India and have sought further details so we can understand more as a priority.
"Put simply, players and Boards must fulfil their commitments to the ICC Future Tours Program.
“Situations such as these have to be avoided at all costs because ultimately those that are affected most are the people that the game depends on so heavily - cricket lovers, key broadcasters and commercial partners.
“For the game’s sake this needs to be resolved as soon as possible.”
But for Hong Kong, it’s now about preparing to possible play in the game’s biggest tournament, and it starts with a two-match ODI series against arch rivals Papua New Guinea starting on November 8 in Townsville.