Cricket West Indies (CWI) has brought back successful coach Phil Simmons to be in charge of the West Indies (WI) team!
Certainly, this was necessary, based on the results and general approach of the team since the new administration under Ricky Skerritt took over the reins. Our outing to the World Cup 2019 was feeble and our subsequent series in all formats against India were a disaster!
Among the changes was the structure of the selection committee. There is now in place a lead selector in Roger Harper, the Guyanese ex-Test cricketer, which means he is the chairman, while he would have a selector in Miles Bascombe to assist him. Bascombe of St Vincent, does not have too much experience, having played just a handful of first-class games for the Windward Islands.
Along with these two gentlemen would be the captain of the team being selected, in the case of the limited over games, Kieron Pollard, and in Tests, Jason Holder. However, the captains would have suggestions but no vote. This is where the third selector comes in, no other than the coach, Simmons.
I am pleased with the new format since it’s vital that the coach be a selector as he would also put forward the captains’ viewpoint, and three selectors are the right number.
Simmons had been WI coach in 2015/16 and was dismissed with some hatched-up excuse about not observing the right policy and culture of the team. It was nonsense, and all intelligent cricket followers knew it was a set-up to get rid of him because he complained of interference in team selections by an administrator. Where Phil went wrong was criticising the individual on a radio programme. Nonetheless, the punishment was harsh and did not fit the transgression. Simmons even admitted he was wrong yet didn’t think, especially as no names were mentioned, that he would be so severely chastised!
The main reason for his competence lies in the members of the team enjoying their game under his supervision.
The triumph in the T20 World Cup of 2016 was brought about by a team that believed in itself and enjoyed a winning attitude. This feeling reflected the indomitable spirit of Simmons that lies in his passion for cricket, in addition to his motivational instincts which ensures that each cricketer under his supervision enjoys the game.
Develops young players
This is the foundation of his character and the basis from which his feats with Ireland, Afghanistan and the Barbados Tridents emanate. It was proven when he spent eight years with Ireland and led them to qualification for three World Cups, then to their crowning glory, to be accepted by the International Cricket Council (ICC) as a Test-playing nation in 2015.
The same happened to Afghanistan, a country of talented players with the natural ability to reach far but with no-one to show them the right direction to take. Then Simmons came along, a man with cricket fervour in his pores and a will to win plus a burning desire to develop young players, converting them into top level professional cricketers, helping them to reach for the stars by believing in themselves.
Simmons provided that long-awaited spark the Afghans needed, to ignite their desire to climb the highest peak, where their cricketers could find fulfilment. For the first time they qualified for the 50-over World Cup in 2019 and were also accepted by the ICC as a Test-playing nation.
The Tridents were almost at the bottom of the standings just past the halfway stage of the 2019 Caribbean Premier League competition, and with sheer confidence building and bravado they came back with a drive to be champions under the watchful eye of Simmons, super coach.
Simmons was born in Arima on April 18, 1963. Fifty-six years is ideal to combine his wide experience in coaching with his solid background in playing cricket at the highest level, to gratify that yearning in a team searching for the secret of success.
The fans and lovers of WI cricket are waiting to see, not an immediate climb to the top, but a glimmer of improvement in approach so that even if we lose games we could sense that the cricket is recovering through our cricketers going about their jobs with the right attitude, style, and body language. Then we could feel proud that WI cricket is on the up by their playing better cricket.
The man to bring it back is Phil Simmons!
The first acid test is against Afghanistan, the team that Phil built. WI oppose them in all three formats between November 5 to December 1. Good luck WI!