…lands four-year contract
ST JOHN’S, Antigua, (CMC) – Former all-rounder Phil Simmons was on Monday appointed West Indies head coach on a four-year contract, returning to lead the side for the second time in four years after his first stint ended in acrimony.
The 56-year-old beat out challenges from legendary Windies opener Desmond Haynes and incumbent Floyd Reifer, who were short-listed for the post left vacant since Australian Stuart Law departed hastily last November.
Simmons led West Indies for 18 months before being dramatically sacked in September 2016 just five months after overseeing the Caribbean side’s capture of the Twenty20 World Cup in India, for what the then CWI administration labelled “differences in culture and strategic approach”.
The Trinidadian, who has also coached Zimbabwe, Ireland and more recently, Afghanistan, was also always considered the front-runner for the position and CWI president Ricky Skerritt said the governing body was confident it had “chosen the right man for the job at the right time”.
“Bringing Phil Simmons back is not just righting a past wrong, but I am confident that CWI has chosen the right man for the job at the right time,” said Skerritt, who replaced three-term incumbent Dave Cameron in CWI elections last March.
“I want to also thank the very talented Floyd Reifer for the hard work he put in while he was the interim coach.”
Simmons was one of 34 applying for the job which for the first time excluded any foreign applicants, as CWI announced its intention to recruit someone from the Caribbean.
The list was eventually whittled down to six last month with the final three-man shortlist undergoing interviews last Tuesday here at the Coolidge Cricket Ground.
Director of cricket, Jimmy Adams, hailed the “robust recruitment process” and said he expected Simmons to be the catalyst the team required across all formats.
“I am happy, after a very robust recruitment process at the appointment of Phil to the role of head coach,” said the former Test captain.
“I have no doubt that Phil brings the requisite leadership skills and experience needed to drive improvement across our international squads and I look forward to supporting him in the role.”
Simmons’s appointment also comes seven months following a payout from CWI as a legal settlement, after he successfully contested his sacking under then president Dave Cameron.
At the time, Skerritt also issued an apology to Simmons, pointing out he had been “the best candidate” when he had been first chosen as Windies head coach just following the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
The statement was in response to a claim by Cameron during the election campaign that appointing Simmons had been “a bad decision”.
Simmons, who played 26 Tests and 143 One-Day Internationals, made his name with Ireland with whom he spent eight years, during that time capturing 11 trophies and qualifying for every ICC tournament.
Following his Windies stint, he took over Afghanistan in December, 2017, guiding them to their capture of the World Cup qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe, which saw them make their debut at the ICC World Cup in England earlier this year.
After stepping down following the tournament, he joined Barbados Tridents in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL)and only last weekend saw them to their second title.
Simmons will take over the helm of a West Indies side which has continued to slump in all formats. They lie eighth in Tests only above the likes of Bangladesh and Afghanistan, and are ninth in ODIs following their worst-ever showing at a World Cup last July in England under interim choice Reifer.
In the T20 format where the Windies are reigning champions, they also lie a disappointing ninth following a spate of poor results.
Simmons will also serve as one of three selectors, with former West Indies off-spinner and head coach, Roger Harper, along with Miles Bascombe – who played a single T20 International eight years ago – announced as the new men’s selection panel.