I have to select the best team – Simmons
Yesterday’s Zoom press conference with West Indies head coach Phil Simmons was always going to be an interesting one, as the Trinidadian faced the media to hear questions about the One-Day International (ODI) and T20 squads that Cricket West Indies had sent out earlier in the day for the Ireland and England series.
Not surprisingly, the first couple of questions focused on the non-selection of some players, namely Shimron Hetmyer, Chris Gayle and Andre Russell.
While Simmons outlined that Hetmyer didn’t ‘make the cut’ due to fitness issues, the Trinidadian alluded that Gayle’s non-selection was strictly due to the self-styled Universe Boss not being a part of his ‘best team’ at this point.
The lone T20 against Ireland was expected to be a farewell match for Gayle at Sabina Park. Last November, Cricket West Indies CEO Johnny Grave, while speaking on the Mason and Guest radio show in Barbados, said: “Collectively we feel that it is appropriate for him to have one last game at home to say farewell and certainly the Ireland series would present that opportunity.” Grave went on to say, “whether it happens or not I do not know but it would be appropriate as far as I can see it ...”
However, Simmons says if that situation was to arise, it would have had to come from above him.
“When I sit to select the team, I look through the selection policy and I have to select the best team. If there is something to change, I have to be informed of that so that it is done a different way. For this, I just went straight down the line,” said Simmons.
In an article published on Thursday, a source revealed to The Gleaner that there are plans to have a testimonial match for Gayle in the summer of this year during New Zealand’s tour of the Caribbean but Simmons appeared to have little knowledge about this testimonial match.
“If there is a case where a send-off is to be had for Chris, for us to select him if he is not a part of our make-up, then it has to come from above us. So, I can’t say if it’s going to happen later on in the year.”
In the meantime, regular captain Kieron Pollard has been passed fit and will return to lead the teams. Jason Holder has also been named in both the ODI and T20 squads, but a fit-again Fabian Allen will only be available for the England T20s after testing positive for COVID-19.
Opener Evin Lewis and fast bowler Anderson Phillip will also miss out after also testing positive for the coronavirus.
The West Indies will play Ireland in three ODIs in Jamaica, starting on January 8, followed by a one-off T20 International. They will then host England in Barbados for a five-match T20I series, and Simmons is hoping for a good start to the new year.
“We do need to start the year on a high. And we know both Ireland and England have very good teams, so we expect a very strong challenge as we look to improve our chances of automatic qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2023 and building the T20 team for the ICC T20 World Cup in 2022,” Simmons said.
CG Insurance ODIs vs Ireland
Kieron Pollard (captain), Shai Hope (vice-captain), Shamarh Brooks, Roston Chase, Justin Greaves, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Gudakesh Motie, Jayden Seales, Nicholas Pooran, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith and Devon Thomas.
COVID-19 Reserves: Keacy Carty, Sheldon Cottrell
T20Is vs Ireland and England
Kieron Pollard (captain), Nicholas Pooran (vice-captain), Fabian Allen (England T20I only), Darren Bravo (England T20Is only),
Roston Chase, Sheldon Cottrell, Dominic Drakes, Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, Jason Holder, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers,
Rovman Powell, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith and Hayden Walsh Jr.
COVID-19 Reserves: Jayden Seales, Alzarri Joseph, Devon Thomas.