THE name Simmons has been an integral part of West Indies cricket for the past 30 years.
Phil Simmons, 56, was a solid all-rounder for West Indies from 1987 to 1999, playing 26 Test matches and 143 One Day Internationals (ODIs). Phil has coached a number of countries over the years and after coaching West Indies from 2015 to 2016, he was recently rehired for a four-year contract to return as West Indies head coach. Seven years after Phil played his last match for West Indies, his nephew Lendl, now 34, wore the maroon colours for the first time. Between 2006 and 2017, he played eight Test matches, 68 ODIs and 45 ODIs for West Indies.
After a two-year hiatus, the right-handed top-order batsman is set to make a return to the West Indies line-up as he has been included in the T20 squad to face Afghanistan, in India, next month.
Another Simmons is aiming to create his own path as Keagan, Lendl’s nephew, is currently training with the TT Red Force leading up to the Colonial Medical Insurance Super50 Cup that starts on November 6. Keagan, 20, represented the West Indies Under-19 team, at the 2018 International Cricket Council Under-19 50-over World Cup, in New Zealand. The left-handed opener had some brilliant moments scoring 92 not out against New Zealand and 166 versus Canada.
Keagan spoke about the family history during a rain delay, at a Red Force trial match, at the National Cricket Centre, in Couva, yesterday.
On the talented family tree, Keagan said, “Lendl has helped me a lot in my career, just giving me advice and allowing me to speak to other big players like (Sri Lankan Kumar) Sangakkara, he is one of my favourite players. Just being able to watch him (Lendl) grow up in the same place that I am growing up now and to see where he has made it (is great).”
Keagan, who gets butterflies watching Lendl bat, said he is not pressured to perform because of Lendl and Phil but is motivated. “I think it is very inspiring to me and I don’t put pressure on myself, but there might be pressure on me because of what Lendl has done. I put pressure on myself to become a better cricketer not because of them, but because of the person that I am and I know I have the similar amount of potential and I just want to fulfil that. I know they will be proud of me however far I reach once I give my best.”
Keagan did not get the opportunity to play during the 2019 Hero Caribbean Premier League, but he said it was a learning experience being a part of the Guyana Amazon Warriors that lost in the finals.
Speaking about the Super50 season Simmons said, “I honestly think it is a very good opportunity for all the guys, including myself, to really bond as a team. I know we have had a couple difficult seasons in the past and I think moving forward under the leadership of Mervyn (Dillon), all the guys want to gel together and perform the best as they can. I am really looking forward to playing for TT if I get the chance.”
I have been on the sidelines for a while now and honestly, I am hungry and ready to go, so once I get the opportunity I am just going to put my best foot forward.”