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Tuesday 21 January 2020
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Bring back Phil…Now

In this file photo, then West Indies cricket team captain Jason Holder (R) and former coach Phil Simmons playfully box to pay their respect to late boxer Muhammad Ali during a practice session in Basseterre, Saint Kitts, on June 10, 2016.
In this file photo, then West Indies cricket team captain Jason Holder (R) and former coach Phil Simmons playfully box to pay their respect to late boxer Muhammad Ali during a practice session in Basseterre, Saint Kitts, on June 10, 2016.

IT is time for Cricket West Indies (CWI) to hire a new coach for the West Indies (WI) team! Are they happy with the present coach (coaches)? I doubt it! Certainly not 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!

Phil Simmons had been WI coach in 2015 and 2016 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. This particular official went on to build a case against Simmons to fire him from the job he was handling so competently.

The main reason for his competence being, the members of the team enjoyed playing under his supervision. He and Daren Sammy, the captain, built an excellent partnership that motivated the team to win the T20 World Cup in 2016. This victory was brought about by a team that believed in itself and enjoyed a winning attitude. This feeling runs through a cricket side by the stimulation aroused within each members’ breast by its captain, in this case the influential Sammy, and its coach, the indomitable spirit of Simmons.

Just what are they waiting for, someone else to snap him up? I am surprised that Phil has not been approached as yet for WI cricket does not have time to waste; thus, when someone is good and has a proven record of success, then delay can create opportunities for him to be lured by other cricket nations, especially those which have recognised his talent to build, unify and motivate.

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 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 Phil came along, a man with cricket passion 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 to the top, 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 gentle Trinidadian certainly has the character to accomplish such feats as a coach, plus the personality to drive his charges to success. Simmons was born in Arima, on April 18, 1963. At 56, he is at an ideal age to combine his wide experience in coaching with his solid background in playing cricket at the highest level, in order to gratify that yearning in a team searching for the secret of success.

I honestly thought, (after being treated so unfairly by the previous CWI administration, on top of which the new president quickly settled his outstanding debt that the previous president refused to clear up), that the Trinidadian would have been offered the coaching job as soon as possible, knowing he was free after the World Cup.

However, here we all are, the fans and lovers of WI cricket, waiting to see, not immediate victories, 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.

To do that they must, first of all, understand the game, secondly, they must be fit for cricket by batting and bowling long hours in the nets, and thirdly, one must notice the enthusiasm of a team that believes they could win. Then the cricketers and their fans could enjoy the game to the fullest; in any format!

The man to bring it back is Phil Simmons! Don’t delay!

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