Former West Indies Cricket Coach Phil Simmons will be available to coach the West Indies team again if needed after July 15th, 2019. Speaking from overseas during the Isports radio programme on i95.5fm with host Andre Errol Baptiste on Saturday night, Simmons stated, "At the moment I am contracted to Afghanistan and there can be no talk about West Indies cricket. I'm focused on Afghanistan and how we get ready for the Cricket World Cup starting in May.”
He continued, “But after the Finals on July 15th, my contract is up with Afghanistan, but nobody knows the future, but my whole aim now is to win the World Cup so after 15th July, let us see what happens. But everyone who knows me understands how much I love the region and how hard it has been for me over the last three years dealing with that matter. I am just glad it is over and my name has been cleared. Most importantly, the apology from the new President Ricky Skerritt goes a long way in clearing up a lot of the talk under the previous administration. I believe that this shows that this new team is about the interest of cricket and not about themselves.”
Simmons, who made his Test debut in 1988 and played 26 Test matches for the West Indies, spoke about the many ills he experienced as West Indies coach and despite his success with the team winning the ICC World T20 final on April 3rd, 2016, recalled a number of situations he had to endure.
He said, “I remember the former president telling me that we could not pick certain players (named called Dwayne Bravo and Keiron Pollard) because they passed him straight and did not say anything, how they had no manners, team selection was just too personal. In fact, he said unless they play for Trinidad and Tobago, they should not play for the West Indies. This was also echoed at the selector's meetings.”
“In fact, under Courtney Browne, team selection processed was changed whereby he made all the final decisions on the composition of the team and said that is how it was. It did not matter the captain or the coach ideas. The impression given was that this was a new directive from on top and the team was named by him and you had no choice,” stated Simmons who excelled at Zimbabwe, then Ireland with remarkable success and last year he led Afghanistan to victory in the World Cup qualifier and inflicting a final match defeat against the West Indies, since leaving the West Indies in controversial fashion as coach.
Simmons, a former cricketing all-rounder, explained that he was surprised and hurt by two recent decisions which hev recalled. He said, "During my time, four years ago, I had a 45 minute argument with Browne over the selection of Chris Gayle, with Browne saying he (Gayle) was too old and should not be selected and at the time. I said that despite his back concerns he was more than good enough, now fast forward and Chris Gayle was called back to assist the West Indies to qualify for the World Cup. Then, four years ago when Richard Pybus was the Director of coaching, said to me that the West Indies players in the IPL must return home for a 10 day camp and that was the way it had to be, and I said to him the players had contracts and got No Objection certificates, but now Pybus is the coach and there is no rule like that for the players in the IPL, they can play out their terms and that is how it should be all the time. It was tough, but now I feel I am in a better place enjoying the cricket and just having fun."
Simmons, who played 143 ODIs after his debut in 1987, believes that a full-strength West Indies team will have to be among the favourites to win the World Cup,” If the best West Indies players are selected, then the West Indies have to be among the favourites to win.
He said, "Dwayne Bravo I believe he is in a good space now enjoying his cricket and it is up to him to decide to come back, but I know he is happy and enjoying his cricket. Given all that has happened in West Indies cricket and the comments by Marlon Samuels on Sportsmax, I hope that the reports on West Indies cricket governance are put to proper use this time around, and there is a proper discussion with a view to ensuring we get it right for the sake of West Indies cricket.”
Simmons, who started his first-class career in 1983, said he was surprised last Sunday when he heard the news that Dave Cameron had lost. "I was very happy for all of those that love West Indies Cricket. How many persons know who is in charge of the England Cricket Board and how many Presidents are on television or busy tweeting. West Indies cricket can look forward to Ricky Skerritt and Dr Shallow, and that is the positive going forward."