West Indies head coach Phil Simmons has urged his understrength Windies team in Bangladesh to look at the tour as an opportunity to stake a claim for their position in the side. In his first press conference via Zoom on Tuesday since arriving in Dhaka on Sunday, Simmons said this series is the beginning of preparations for West Indies’ 2023 One Day International (ODI) World Cup.
The regional side is playing in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League which runs from July 2020 to March 2023. That tournament includes all the ODI playing nations and the bottom two teams will be forced to take part in playoff matches to qualify for the tournament in India three years from now.
“It’s the start of preparations for the World Cup. It’s the tournament to qualify for the World Cup we’re playing in so it’s the start,” Simmons said. He went further in explaining that this crop of West Indies players has the chance to be part of this journey. “My message to all the players here is you’re not here to fill in but you’re here to give yourself a chance. You have a chance now to stake a place in this team. If you do well here, that augers well for you going forward,” the Trinbagonian further stated.
The former West Indies batsman went further in stating the tough task that is before his side on the sub-continent. He said, “The first thing is to win the series. I think it’s always going to be hard when you’re away from home. If you watch around the world, every team around the world plays well at home. It’s going to be a hard series, but the first aspect is to win the series. The second is to make sure we prepare well and give the players the best opportunity to perform.”
Cricket West Indies (CWI) has confirmed all the players on tour tested negative upon arrival. Simmons said he is happy with the composition of the squad selected with both his frontline Test bowlers in Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel in Bangladesh. The Barbadian Roach was forced to return home early from the New Zealand Test series after his father passed away. Spinners Veerasammy Permaul and Rahkeem Cornwall are also part of the Test squad. Having made his Test debut in 2012 in Dhaka against Bangladesh, Permaul’s last match for the West Indies was in 2015 against Australia. “I think we’re here with a balanced unit. We have three spinners, three fast-bowlers and a seaming all-rounder so it’s a case where we have balanced all-round so the decision hasn’t been made yet whether we’re going with three fast-bowlers and two spinners… no decision has been made yet,” he stated.
Among his bowling armour in the ODI squad is T&T left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein, whom the Windies coach said could prove to be an essential bowler in the three-match series. Simmons explained, “In the CPL we saw what he can do within the powerplay and the latter parts of the innings. He’s also a brilliant fieldsman and can hold his own with the bat too. We hope that he can settle and form a partnership with Hayden Walsh Jr. as we go through this series.”
Even without some of his key senior players, Simmons has said he’s found no problem in motivating this squad, but he did admit that it would be a mistake to think the regional side goes into the series with the upper hand. “Bangladesh is clearly the favourites because they’re at home and they play well at home so they have to be favourites. We can’t argue with that,” he added.
The first of three ODIs bowls off on January 20th with the two-match Test series starting on February 3rd. The regional boys will play a One Day warm-up match on January 18th at the BKSP Stadium in Savar. There will also be a four-day warm-up match before the start of the Test series between January 28th and 31st.