T20 World Cup debacle ends in head coach quitting yet still in charge for two-Test series against Australia
Phil Simmons’ journey as head coach of the West Indies has involved a plethora of twists and turns, but the T20 World Cup defeats to Ireland and Scotland must surely have been his low points.
The Trinidadian, who had high hopes for the two-time T20 world champions in this month’s showpiece tournament, resigned from his role earlier this week. However, he briefly stays at the helm for the back-to-back Tests against Australia.
West Indies, who had to enter the event in the qualifying stages for the first time, were expected to breeze past Ireland and Scotland in their four-nation group games Down Under.
A heavy and embarrassing loss to Scotland was difficult to swallow for Cricket West Indies (CWI). Nicholas Pooran masterminded getting his troops fighting for a place in the tournament’s Super 12 stage, by staging a comprehensive success over Zimbabwe.
Then Ireland, who were expected to be dismissed by the Windies, last week stunned the sport with an astonishing nine-wicket triumph to send the Caribbean side tumbling out of the lucrative event.
It came as no real surprise that following the lowest-ever ebb for the West Indies, that Simmons would step down. His final task will be the long format matches, when Australia appear to be formidable opposition, from 30 November to 12 December. CWI will certainly not be anticipating that Simmons will leave with a whimper.
Simmons explained: “It’s disappointing and heart-wrenching, but we just didn’t turn up. We weren’t good enough, and we now have to watch a tournament play out without our involvement.
“It’s unfathomable, and for that I deeply apologise to our fans and followers. It’s not just the team that is hurting, but the proud nations that we represent as well.
“From a personal perspective this is not a knee-jerk reaction, but a move I have been considering for some time. It is earlier than hoped for, but I will now focus my energies in Australia on continuing to build on the excellent progress the Test team has made.”
West Indies were given a reality check in their three T20 World Cup games in Hobart, so now the CWI have to sort out the chaos. Simmons shuffled his pack throughout the tournament, with some strange choices for the batting order while Pooran was responsible for inexplicably changing the bowlers.
Barbados all rounder Jason Holder, who so often has played a significant match-winning role, was neglected with both bat and ball by Simmons and Pooran. As a result, the impetus was gone and the defeats from minnows sent shivers down the spine of Caribbean cricket.
Most of the West Indian batsmen, although at times impressing with the run rate, were dismissed cheaply and many gifted their wicket.
The opening duo of Jamaica’s Brandon King and Bajan Kyle Mayers needed support. Trinidad’s Ewin Lewis, who missed a lot of build up to the T20 World Cup, was expected to add firepower to the top order. Yet overall it was the fact that the Windies were clearly missing the star quality and calibre of players such as Jamaican icon Chris Gayle.
It’s now back to the drawing board for the West Indies, from their lowest point ever as a cricket nation. At least things can only get better as they focus on the future, but CWI must be relieved that next year’s tour to Pakistan has been delayed by 12 months.
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