Outgoing West Indies Head Coach Simmons Says the Region Must Continue to Adapt to Remain Competitive

ADELAIDE, Australia – Outgoing West Indies head coach Phil Simmons has praised the development of the Test squad but says the region must continue to adapt to the swift changes in international cricket in order to remain competitive.

PSIMauPhil Simmons reacts during a West Indies training sesson on the ongoing tour of Australia.The ongoing day-night Test at the Adelaide Oval will be the former West Indies all-rounder’s last in charge, following his resignation in the wake of the Caribbean side’s ill-fated campaign at the recent Twenty20 World Cup here.

Simmons’ three-year stint proved a topsy-turvy one, West Indies scaling the heights of a Test series win over powerhouses England but also plumbing new depths after under-performing at two successive T20 World Cups.

“My big hope for West Indies cricket is that we get things in order at home [and] we put things in place so every team can start improving and moving up the ladder in world cricket,” he said ahead of his farewell Test which bowled off here Thursday.

“I think the Test team has shown the way so far. The last few years we haven’t had good success in white ball cricket but the talent is always there and what we do on the ground to harness that talent and move that talent forward, is what is going to get us back to where we’re supposed to be.”

He continued: “In the next few years, the game is just going to keep going faster and faster. We saw a Test match in Pakistan [against England] the other day and it’s just unbelievable [how fast England scored].

“The game is going to keep getting like that. ODI cricket brought speed to Test cricket and now T20 cricket is bringing speed to both forms, so we’ll see how fast it gets in the next couple years.”

Ironically, West Indies have enjoyed one of their better years in the longest format this year, beating England 1-0 in a three-match series in the Caribbean and brushing aside visiting Bangladesh 2-0, to be unbeaten in five outings.

And under new captain Kraigg Brathwaite, West Indies have displayed a renewed energy, a quality Simmons said was heartening.

“I think the grit and the determination that the guys have been showing for this year [has been great],” said Simmons.

“We’ve lost one Test match in the year [prior to the current tour] and it’s shown in the way we’ve played, especially in the series against England where we had to fight for a few games and then came out on top in the last game. 

“[It showed] that some progress has been made and to me the joy has been seeing people improve. You had Jermaine (Blackwood) who is going into his 50th Test, and he was out a while and he’s on his way back. We see the difference in him and little things like that brings joy to me.”

He added: “I’m confident with the guys who are here. When they came here they started to understand how difficult it is and you can see the adjustment.

“… the captain (Brathwaite) keeps setting the standard and with Tage (Tagenarine Chanderpaul) next to him now, that example is going to be set so everybody else can follow it. 

“It augurs well for our batting lineup because there’s a lot more grit and determination. 

“The last two or three years the bowling has done their work and put us in place, now the batting is coming so sooner or later, all will come together.”

Simmons will be wrapping up his second stint as West Indies coach, the first one ending in acrimonious circumstances when he was sacked by Cricket West Indies six months after the side captured the 2016 T20 World Cup.

The Trinidadian, who also enjoyed a successful stint as Ireland’s head coach, said he had always given his all to the role but ruled out a future third spell with West Indies.

“[I feel] good. From a point of view that I know that every time I come out and every time I am part of West Indies, I give everything that I can give,” he noted.

“From that point of view I’m good and I’ll give all for the next six days … and let’s hope we can come out with a win so I finish on a high.”

He added: “I think you can rule out that third stint. I think that’s enough for me. I would like a lot more time home with my family so I think the international stint can be ruled out for now. 

“I am not retired yet … I’m going to continue doing coaching, continue doing whatever comes up that I feel is a challenge for me.”