‘Windies consistency key to tackle Afghanistan,’ Simmons
After three years, former West Indies all-rounder Phil Simmons is back as head coach of the Caribbean team. As he begins a new chapter against Afghanistan at their new home venue here, Simmons urged his players to shoulder responsibility individually to help revive the team.
On the first day of his assignment on Wednesday, ahead of the series starting with the ODIs on November 6, Simmons felt planning by the team management and consistency of players would help things fall into place.
“It’s a big responsibility on my shoulders after three years and it is different too. I would love to start with what is necessary for now. As a coach I have a goal for myself and I want my team to be a consistent winning unit. West Indies should win more matches instead of losing more matches,” he told Hindustan Times on Wednesday.
The former player from Trinidad was sacked in 2016 after leading the West Indies to their second T20 World Cup following serious differences with the Windies cricket board. As the team tries to recover from a poor World Cup in England and the recent reverses against India at home, Simmons, 56, feels it is important for the team to be supported by everyone. “We have won the World Cup twice and finished runners-up once and now all the stakeholders need to work hard to get things right once again,” he said.
“It’s about getting the balance right, discipline right… Once we have all this, we can hope for a turn-around in fortunes for West Indies cricket.”
Simmons, who took over as Afghanistan batting coach and then was appointed head coach of the team in 2017, leading them to victory in the ICC World Cup qualifiers in March 2018, knows Afghanistan cricket inside out. However, he feels the series won’t be easy.
“It’s a positive thing that I know much about the rivals (Afghanistan), but they are a young and energetic side who can upset any one. Over the last many years, they have become quite a confident unit. They will be playing on home turf; it’s not going to be easy for us. We have to make sure we are ready for what comes to us while facing an aggressive opposition.
“On both the occasions when Afghanistan beat West Indies, I was their coach, and this time I would like to see things in the reverse order,” said Simmons. “It would be important to see how the West Indies boys execute plans.”
The much-travelled Simmons has also been head coach of Zimbabwe and Ireland. He had some success with the Irish team, serving for a record 224 matches. Under him, Ireland achieved many notable victories, most famously over England in the 2011 World Cup, but also over Pakistan and Bangladesh in the 2007 World Cup, and against Zimbabwe and West Indies in the 2015 edition.
Simmons said West Indies have struggled to find answers to halt the sliding fortunes of the team. “If we all could answer this question, we would have done things right much before. We have not been able to find the answer. Currently, we are 5th-6th in world cricket and that’s a big concern.
“If we really need to come up in the ladder, we need to have a consistent showing in all the series… We have a new captain (Kieren Pollard) and let’s see what changes he wants to make for the good.”
Simmons said the full series against Afghanistan was important in the context of next year’s Twenty20 World Cup in Australia. “We have young legs in the side and the series would be a good opportunity for them to make sure that from now how we want to play T20 cricket.”