WEST INDIES coach Phil Simmons blamed poor shot selection for the team’s dismal batting performance against England in their opening International Cricket Council T20 World Cup on Saturday but believes the squad can bounce back against South Africa on Tuesday.
England thrashed West Indies by six wickets with 70 balls to spare as they dismissed the Caribbean team for a paltry 55 runs and, in reply, cruised to 56/4 in 8.2 overs.
A shabby opening display by the defending champions saw the team’s most publicly-criticised selection, Chris Gayle, topscore with 13 runs.
“It was just about bad shot selection. The (England) bowling wasn’t as extraordinary. All the guys have played against these guys before so I just put it down to bad shot selection. We need to improve that ten-fold by the time we get to Tuesday,” said Simmons, during a zoom media conference on Sunday.
The coach added that the team did not assess the game accurately and were unable to recover owing to a continuous fall of wickets.
After the powerplay, West Indies were reeling at 31/4 having lost openers Evin Lewis (three) and Lendl Simmons (six), followed by Shimron Hetmyer (nine) and Gayle, who was the only batsman to get into double figures.
Wickets continued to crumble as the experienced Dwayne Bravo and Nicholas Pooran were each dismissed for six, while skipper Kieron Pollard made five and Andre Russell a second-ball duck.
English leg-spinner Adil Rashid was the pick of the bowlers as he bagged a mesmerising four wickets from just 2.2 overs. Moeen Ali and Tymal Mills also took two wickets for 17 runs from their four overs each.
On the batting collapse, Simmons mentioned, “The game plan is there and everyone understands it. After losing a couple wickets we needed to regroup and we just kept losing wickets. We didn’t assess the sessions when we lost wickets.”
In defence of 55, West Indies showed some fight with the ball and in the field as they were still able to snag four English scalps.
World Cup debutant Akeal Hosein (2/24) took two stellar catches off his own bowling to remove Jonny Bairstow (nine) and Liam Livingstone (one).
Simmons, a former Trinidad and Tobago and WI all-rounder, credited Hosein’s start to the competition dubbing it “heartening”. However, although ruing the team’s devastating loss, he believes the maroon has enough experience to assess challenging situations, adapt and play accordingly.
Looking ahead at Tuesday’s meeting with the Proteas, which bowls off at 6 am (TT time), Simmons is optimistic that the team has the both the depth and tenacity to rebound after an “embarrassing” opening performance as reigning champions.
In late June and early July, South Africa travelled to the West Indies and defeated the hosts 3-2 in a five-match T20I series, at the National Stadium in St George's, Grenada.
Saturday’s loss, Simmons said, is being used as fuel to execute an improved showing on Tuesday at the Dubai International Stadium, United Arab Emirates.
“When you have an opening World Cup game like that everyone is looking forward to the next game. Everyone is looking forward to make amends for what happened.
“There’s a lot of pride in the team so I think the motivation for the next game is not going to be that hard. There’s personal pride that comes in to it so that’ what going to motivate and lift guys. We’re looking to come back very strong on Tuesday,” the coach added.
Simmons also defended the omission of rookie all-rounder Roston Chase from the starting 11 against England. Chase top scored with an unbeaten 54 against Afghanistan in a T20 World Cup warm-up match on Wednesday. He was also named Most Valuable Player of this year’s Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL), having scored 446 runs (four half-centuries and a strike rate of nearly 150), bagged ten wickets and taken seven catches.
Simmons defended his decision but said that, after assessing Monday's training session, there may be the likelihood of changes to the first XI.
“There are no regrets about leaving out anyone," said the WI coach. "I know we are disappointed and embarrassed. It’s something that we look back on as a one-off and making sure that we lift our game.
“We’ve had a couple good days of team bonding and a major part of it was practice. The mood is extremely high. Tomorrow (Monday) we will look at things again after practice and see what the combination we want to go into the next match with,” he added.
Simmons closed, “Every game from now is extremely important. The message we want to put out against South Africa is that we’ve learnt from this defeat and we are assessing our situation of the game a lot better; batting, bowling and fielding.”