Simmons: I pushed for Windies fitness standard

West Indies coach Phil Simmons, left, looks as fast bowler Alzarri Joseph bowls during a practice session on the recent tour of Bangladesh. (AFP) -
West Indies coach Phil Simmons, left, looks as fast bowler Alzarri Joseph bowls during a practice session on the recent tour of Bangladesh. (AFP) -

West Indies head coach, Phil Simmons, has strongly endorsed a minimum fitness standard policy for all West Indies players.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) announced the squads for the one-day and T20 series against Sri Lanka. The three-match T20 series bowls off at Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua, at 6 pm, on Wednesday.

A few familiar names were not in the squads., which raised some eyebrows. A CWI media release on Friday, said, "Fast bowlers Sheldon Cottrell and Oshane Thomas, along with batsman Shimron Hetmyer, and all-rounder Roston Chase all failed to reach the minimum fitness standard in time for selection consideration. They will all remain in Antigua after the CG Insurance Super50 Cup to work on their fitness and conditioning."

In a Zoom interview on Sunday, Simmons said, "I am part of the selection (panel) and I agree with it totally. I have been the one pushing it (fitness) more than anything else." It is not the first time Hetmyer has been left out of the squad because of fitness.

One of the fitness tests the players must pass is a yoyo test. In a yoyo test players are required to run repeatedly between markers 20 metres apart. The test continues until the cricketers can't keep up with the required pace.

The experienced Chris Gayle,41, and fast bowler Fidel Edwards, 33, have been chosen for the T20 series with the latter making a return to the maroon for the first time since 2012.

In the 2020 Hero Caribbean Premier League, Edwards grabbed nine wickets in nine matches for Jamaica Tallawahs at an economy rate of 7.66. Edwards proved to be a handful at times with his ability to bowl yorkers. Gayle has been in solid form of late in tournaments such as the 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) and the 2021 Pakistan Super League. He scored 107 runs in two matches for the Quetta Gladiators before leaving to join West Indies.

Simmons said he was pleased with their return to Windies colours.

"It is a boost. We see what Chris did in his last IPL stint and he shows with the bat and on the field (that) he looks fitter, he fields better and he (is) still hitting the ball as we want to see him do it. We've seen Fidel in the last CPL and we've seen that he can still muster over 90 miles an hour...It is great to have the two of them with us."

There are many potential openers on the team and players who are familiar with that position may have to be pushed down the order. Gayle, Andre Fletcher, Lendl Simmons and Evin Lewis all have experience opening the batting for West Indies.

Simmons said, "For me, there is no set position. People got to learn to do what they have to do for the team wherever they are asked to do it and that's what these guys are prepared to do."

Spinners Akeal Hosein and Kevin Sinclair have earned their first T20 International call ups. Hosein made his debut for West Indies in the one-day international series on a recent tour of Bangladesh.

"Akeal showed his ability in Bangladesh and he's put himself up for selection and young Sinclair has shown in CPL what he can do with the ball and even in this last Super50 here. It is good to have the youngsters in and give them a chance to show us what they can do."


"Simmons: I pushed for Windies fitness standard"

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