WEST Indies men’s coach Phil Simmons is urging his players on the tour of Bangladesh to not view the opportunity as simply filling in for the senior players who made themselves unavailable. He encouraged them to cement a spot on the West Indies team.
West Indies will play a three-match One Day International (ODI) series against Bangladesh from January 20 to 25, followed by a two-match Test series from February 3 to 15.
The regional side is missing several seasoned campaigners including Test captain Jason Holder and ODI captain Kieron Pollard because of covid19 safety concerns or personal fears.
Among the others opting not to tour are Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, Roston Chase, Sheldon Cottrell, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran. Fabian Allen and Shane Dowrich are unavailable because of personal reasons.
Jason Mohammed will replace Pollard as ODI captain and Kraigg Brathwaite will fill in for Jason Holder.
Simmons, speaking to journalists via Zoom on Tuesday, said, “My role and my message to all the players here – ‘You are not here to fill in. I think you are here to give yourself a chance (to impress). You have a chance now to seal your place in this team. If you do well here that augurs well for you moving forward.’”
He added, “You come here (and) you do well in the three (ODI) games and the two Test matches then you are putting yourselves in a place where nobody can move you, so you have that opportunity and only you have that opportunity.”
Simmons said other than performance he wants his players to have a positive attitude.
“I think that is the two things that you look for in players when they come into a team, so I think that is going to be the two big pluses for everyone.”
Sri Lanka, South Africa, Australia and Pakistan are all expected to tour the West Indies in 2021.
Simmons said the Bangladesh tour is an opportunity to look at more players leading into a busy 2021. “This opens up the pool and as I said before some of the places are in the players’ hands. If they do well here they can put themselves in line to play most of these series coming up.”
Simmons used the example of Joshua Da Silva and Chemar Holder, two players who are starting to make a name after being fringe players. Da Silva, who played briefly in the third Test match against England last July after wicket-keeper Dowrich got injured, made his Test debut in the second Test match against New Zealand in December.
Holder also made his debut in that match. Both players showed potential with Da Silva hitting a half-century and Holder grabbing two wickets.
There are several uncapped players on tour including Akeal Hosein and Kjorn Ottley. The TT players will be hopeful that they can make their ODI debuts.
Simmons is hopeful the exuberance of his players can propel them to creditable performances against the experienced Bangladesh outfit.
“Sometimes experience plays a part, but sometimes enthusiasm trumps experience. We do have a few experienced players, but the enthusiasm and the hunger (can be our strong point). Sometimes you have to ask for that to trump that experience. Hopefully that’s what happens this time.”
Simmons said he has no hard feelings towards the players who decided not to tour Bangladesh.
“I can’t say if it was a wrong call for them. Everybody has their reasons and their opinions on things and their choices were made with consultation with whoever they consulted with and they think that is the best decision for them. I can’t decide what’s best for anyone else but Phil Simmons.”
Jason Mohammed (captain), Sunil Ambris (vice-captain), Nkrumah Bonner, Joshua Da Silva, Keon Harding, Jahmar Hamilton, Chemar Holder, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Kyle Mayers, Andre McCarthy, Kjorn Ottley, Rovman Powell, Raymon Reifer, Hayden Walsh Jnr
Kraigg Brathwaite (captain), Jermaine Blackwood (vice-captain), Nkrumah Bonner, John Campbell, Rahkeem Cornwall, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Kavem Hodge, Alzarri Joseph, Kyle Mayers, Shayne Moseley, Veerasammy Permaul, Kemar Roach, Raymon Reifer, Jomel Warrican
Phil Simmons (head coach), Rawl Lewis (team manager), Roddy Estwick (assistant coach), Monty Desai (assistant coach), Rayon Griffith (assistant coach), Denis Byam (physiotherapist), Dr Praimanand Singh (team doctor), Ronald Rogers (strength and conditioning coach), Sharon Coppin (massage therapist), Simeon Christophe (massage therapist), Donald LeGuerre (mental skills coach), Dario Barthley (media and content officer), Paul Slowe (security and compliance officer), A.R Srikkanth (team analyst)
January 18: One-day warm-up match, BKSP, Savar
January 20 1st ODI, SBNCS, Dhaka
January 22: 2nd ODI, SBNCS, Dhaka
January 25: 3rd ODI, ZACS, Chattogram
January 28-31: Four-day warm-up, M.A. Aziz Stadium, Chattogram
February 3-7: 1st Test Match, ZACS, Chattogram
February 11-15: 2nd Test Match, SBNCS, Dhaka