Simmons relieved of Windies' poisoned chalice
West Indies cricket coach Phil Simmons has been fired.
The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Tuesday confirmed spiralling rumours of his sacking in an official release, indicating the two were parting company as a result of fundamental differences between Simmons and the approach the board desired.
The burly former Trinidad and Tobago and West Indies all-rounder, who moved into the role after last year’s World Cup following a spell with Ireland, was informed about the termination of his contract by outgoing WICB chief executive officer Michael Muirhead. Simmons’ dismissal came shortly before the Twenty20 squad was due to fly to the United Arab Emirates for a series against Pakistan and just six months after West Indies won the World T20 championship.
“Effectively immediately, the WICB today announced it has separated from the Head Coach Phil Simmons. In a meeting of the Board of Directors, on Saturday, September 10, this decision was taken,” the release from the WICB read.
The WICB’s statement did not go into specifics about the reasons behind Simmons’ termination.
“In recent times, based on the public pronouncements of the coach and the approach internally, we have identified differences in culture and strategic approach. The WICB would therefore like to thank the coach for his contribution and wishes him the best in his future endeavours,” the WICB statement concluded.
Though the timing of the sacking could be questioned with the imminent series in the UAE, Simmons’ demise comes as no surprise. He has had an uneasy relationship with the WICB since making his thoughts public soon after not being allowed to pick what he felt was the best squad for the ODI series in Sri Lanka last year. Consequently the WICB suspended him briefly before allowing him back to his role once both parties resolved to sort out matters amicably.
In September last year when the issue of selection reared its head again Simmons said: “The disappointing fact is that you can lose 3-2 in a vote-off but there is too much interference from outside in the selection of the ODI squad and it’s disappointing for me to know that in any aspect of life … [people would use] their position to get people into a squad; or in this case, get people left out of a squad. It is wrong and I don’t like it and that is my beef with the selection of the ODI team.”
His reinstatement, the WICB said in a statement, was “conditioned upon” two criteria: “issuance to him of a letter of reprimand for his inappropriate public comments”, and his “making a public apology to the WICB and persons whom he may have offended”.
The recent Test series against India finished in a 2-0 defeat and under Simmons, West Indies played 14 Tests which brought only one victory although that was enough to secure a shared series against England last year. They showed glimpses of promise against India but ultimately fell to two heavy defeats – three of the nine losses while Summons has been coach were by an innings, two more by nine wickets and two by more than 150 runs.
It has been suggested that former West Indies captain and current Kent coach Jimmy Adams is the replacement the WICB wants, but sources close to Adams have indicated he is not interested.
For the Pakistan series, the WICB said the team would be under the supervision of former West Indies fast bowler Joel Garner, who is the team manager. He will work alongside the pair of assistant coaches in the Barbadian pair of Henderson Springer and Roddy Estwick.
In less than six months since West Indies won their second World T20 title, under Simmons, the WICB has parted ways with three influential members of the team management with Simmons following the pair of former captain Darren Sammy and bowling consultant Curtly Ambrose.
Immediately after the World T20, the WICB relieved Ambrose of his position which caught him by surprise and apparently came at the behest of Simmons. Then ahead of the two T20Is against India in Florida, the new selection panel led by Courtney Browne decided to remove Sammy as T20 captain and replace him with Carlos Brathwaite.
Suggestions in some circles were that Test captain Jason Holder was likely to be relieved of that position as a result of his bowling ineffectiveness in recent internationals and the belief the captaincy was affecting his game. It had been rumoured that the captaincy had been offered to opening batsman Kraigg Brathwaite who declined.
However, these unconfirmed reports were not addressed by the WICB and Holder remains Test and ODI skipper.
While the West Indies have had success in Twenty20 cricket, and One-Day Internationals to some extent, they are in eighth place in the Test rankings after losing their last four series without winning a single match.