PHILIP “Phil” Simmons has been fired as coach of the West Indies team with immediate effect, ahead of the squad’s departure to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to face Pakistan in a two-monthlong tour, comprising of three T20 Internationals, three One- Day Internationals (ODIs) and three Test matches.
The 53-year-old former Trinidad and Tobago and West Indies all-rounder, who played 26 Tests and 143 ODIs for the regional team from 1987-1999, was appointed as Windies coach in March 2015, following an eight-year spell as coach of Ireland.
But, in a media release issued yesterday, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) commented, “(effective) immediately, (the Board) announced it has separated from the coach Simmons. In a meeting of the Board of Directors (in Dominica) on Saturday, this decision was taken.
“In recent times, based on the public pronouncements of the coach and the approach internally, we have identified differences in culture and strategic approach,” the WICB media release continued.
“The WICB would therefore like to thank the coach for his contribution and wishes him the best in his future endeavours.” According to a story on the Cricinfo website, Simmons, whose major success as WI coach was the victorious ICC T20 World Cup campaign in India in March and April, was informed of the termination of his three-year-long contract by outgoing WICB CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Michael Muirhead.
Ironically, upon Simmons’ hiring last year, Muirhead was quoted as saying, “Phil has a proven ability to develop players, while cultivating great team spirit and a winning culture. We have a number of young, talented players about whom he is excited to be coaching and we believe he is the right fit.” Simmons’ former West Indies teammate James “Jimmy” Adams, who is presently the coach of English county Kent, has been touted as the next WI coach but Adams, the former WI captain, is yet to show an interest in taking the vacant post.
Another name bandied about was England-born Richard Pybus who, ironically, is the WICB’s Director of Cricket and a former Bangladesh and Pakistan coach.
The Barbados’ pair of Henderson Springer and Roddy Estwick will perform the coaching duties during the Pakistan series.
Simmons and the WICB had a strained relationship during his tenure as WI tactician, and he was suspended from his role last September (for the tours of Sri Lanka and Australia) after alleging interferences by Pybus, as well as WICB president Whycliffe “Dave” Cameron, in team selection. Current selector Eldine Baptiste served as interim coach during both tours.
The WICB, upon reinstating Simmons as coach earlier this year, said it was done under two conditions - “issuance to him of a letter of reprimand for his inappropriate public comments” and his “making a public apology to the WICB and persons whom he may have offended.” Augustine “Gus” Logie, the current TT Red Force coach and ex- WI coach, suffered a similar fate in 2004, as he was fired shortly after guiding the WI to the Champions Trophy in England.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Logie, who was initially unaware of Simmons’ sacking, commented, “I’m quite saddened to know that. I don’t know what could have led to him being dismissed.
It goes to show what we’re dealing with, it’s one of those difficult situations.
The coach’s position is just like, probably, the captaincy. It seems to be a chalice that is not something that most people, really and truly, wants. It’s unfortunate.” Another ex-TT and WI player, Bryan Davis, minced no words when contacted.
“I’m totally disappointed, I think it’s the wrong decision,” said Davis.
“You’ll run in to this problem all the time because the people running (WI) cricket do not know anything about cricket. And I think that’s where the main problem lies.” About the likelihood of Pybus taking over the coaching role, Davis stated, “if he’s the coach, well that’s the worst thing that could happen to the team, after he (messed) up Pakistan and Bangladesh cricket. They only improved after they fired him.” Simmons’ removal is the fifth major shake-up in the WI set-up (on and off the field) this year.
Clive Lloyd was moved from chairman of selectors to a special ambassador of the WICB while another selector Courtney Walsh took up the post as Bangladesh bowling coach.
Sir Curtly Ambrose was replaced by Estwick as WI bowling coach while Darren Sammy was sacked as WI T20 captain, with Carlos Brathwaite taking up the mantle.
St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister and Chairman of the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on Cricket, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, yesterday declined comment on the sacking on Simmons.
However, Gonsalves told Newsday that there were “some big issues” he needed to address in his capacity as Chairman of the Prime-Ministerial Sub-Committee.
“All of these firings are symptomatic of a larger governance malaise inside of the entity (West Indies Cricket Board),” he said.
“It is not a Phil Simmons issue but I will speak on these at a later date.” And TT and WI all-rounder Kieron Pollard, on his Twitter page yesterday, remarked, “very disappointing news@Coachsim13.
Keep your head up u will be missed MOST DEFINITELY.”