The things we do all year through
March 29, 2018
Easter hope
March 29, 2018

In your face: Simmons leads Afghans over West Indies

Phil Simmons made such great strides for Ireland’s cricket that they are now officially recognised by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to play Test cricket. He was lured away from Irish soil to come back home to coach his native land of the West Indies. West Indian cricketers loved him because he understood them and would understand their problems being a former West Indian Test and International player himself.

Englishman Richard Pybus was the Director of Cricket for the West Indies Cricket Board at the time. Pybus is a failed coach and cricket administrator who interfered with the selection of teams. He felt that he could give Simmons directives on how he should coach and handle his team, and advice on selection policies. In other words, he stifled the Trinidadian from doing his job to the best of his ability.

Simmons, a man of substance and integrity, stuck to his decisions when asked to retract them and was fired a day before he was to accompany his West Indies team on tour to Sri Lanka! This also coincided with Jason Holder’s first series as the captain of the team.  Some attributed the lacklustre performances of the team on this tour to the absence of Simmons of whom all the players had grown quite fond.

The now free coach advertised his availability on the cricket coaching market worldwide where the Afghans were only too eager to grab him. Now he has led his new team to success by winning the qualifiers for the Cricket World Cup (CWC) which takes place in England next year.

Also, to add to the credits of Simmons as a coach, Afghanistan has also attained Test status under his watch.  His record is excellent and he has done wonders for his two adopted countries!

However, the West Indies’ administration is overrun by Englishmen and an arrogant, haughty and egotistical president whose knowledge of cricket is nil yet his interference of things cricket in the West Indies is 100 per cent why the game has nowhere to go.

Goal achieved

Having said that, Holder’s men survived the qualifying tournament with one of their goals realised, which was to finish in the first two teams to qualify for the CWC 2019. With that in mind, they topped the table with eight points to the Asian team’s six points. However, they surrendered meekly in the final, in a poor non-professional effort, where the thinking was obviously of a goal already accomplished.

It confirmed the nonsensical instruction of the captain, and head coach Australian Stuart Law earlier on in the tournament to treat every game as a final which only served to place the cricketers under undue pressure, the mental result being fatigue and listlessness. By the time they did get to the final they were a spent force!

And after playing the previous matches under that stress and anxiety, it brought a burden on the team of expectancy and they buckled under the strain and intensity of playing in the finals.

Every match, on the other hand, ought to be played just as another cricket game with no hassle and weight of false importance to obstruct the free flow of enjoyment of the cricket, just playing for the love of the game itself! After giving one’s all in practice one then enters the competition doing what comes naturally, having developed the right habits in the nets.

This brings me to the preparation plan for the big contest next year. It is a failing of coaches and captains in their own insecurities to keep the same players together.  This is only because they’ve been living and bonding with their players for a while so that they don’t want to part with those to whom they’ve grown accustomed and start over again. But this is erroneous thinking.

Preparation should take place in every territory for the regional Super50, with selection for the CWC based on performances in this tournament.  It’s high time the Director of Cricket Jimmy Adams, starts to make some noise and ensure every territorial coach has a plan for his players that Adams must oversee; where compulsory practice is vital for this is where discipline is cultivated, without which there’s no chance of success.

Attitudes have to be improved; self-confidence has to be established; the reading of the game—knowing what one has to do next in the context of a game—has to be taught; and other positive measures taken. By the time they arrive at the competition, every player should be fit and raring to go, giving of their best for their team to be successful. Fitness is always the key!

This will bring the best out of cricketers thus the selectors, if they’re honest and wise enough to spot talent and ability and not just check scores, then and only then, will the West Indies have a chance to give a good account of themselves.