THE EDITOR: The strategic mind of the West Indies cricket team’s manager, Phil Simmons, was revealed recently when he said he is seeking a “formula” for the Caribbean team to win T20 matches anywhere in the world.
This mode of thinking on Simmons’ part is proven by his success versus Afghanistan over the past month. No neophyte to the managerial job, with good stints with Ireland and Afghanistan, Simmons’ science is based upon maximising WI strengths, reducing WI weaknesses and learning from the strengths and weaknesses of other cricketing nations.
The refreshingly commanding 3-0 and 1-0 ODI and Test victories over the defiant Afghanistan team provided ample proof that Simmons is using this sound strategic thinking as his tool of choice to restore respectability to the WI cricket brand.
In the ODI series he successfully used Shai Hope, who averages over 50 runs in this format of cricket, to anchor the innings. Hope’s clear greatness allowed him to do for the WI versus Afghanistan what Kane Williamson did for New Zealand to take them to the World Cup final recently.
This template that Simmons is putting in place augurs well for the WI’s World Cup hopes in 2023.
Roston Chase also flourished with both bat and ball, completing the series among the top five batters and providing a perfect foil for Hope. He was clinical in his bowling, keeping the dangerous Afghans from being able to score quickly.
In the Test match the WI strategically used only two quicks and employed three spinners on a pitch that was turning square to telling effect as Rakheem Cornwall with a ten for spun the Afghans into a stupor, supported by Chase and Jomel Warrican.
The batters refreshingly attacked the Afghan bowling expertly, never letting them settle in line or length in the manner perfected by Australia as Shamarh Brooks plundered his maiden Test ton.
With an injury-hit squad missing Sunil Narine, Carlos Braithwaithe, Rovman Powell and Nicholas Pooran, Simmons must be highly praised for the superior strategy that the WI is displaying under his lead as it chases long-hoped-for success in cricket.