Simmons singles out uncapped Windies' duo Hope and Brathwaite
NORTH SOUND, Antigua (CMC):
New West Indies head coach, Phil Simmons, said he is impressed with the growth shown by the two uncapped players selected in the regional side to play England in a three-match Test series starting here today.
Rookie batsman Shai Hope and fellow Barbadian, fast-bowling all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite, were selected in the 14-man squad announced by selectors late Friday.
Hope was the fourth-highest run-getter in the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Professional Cricket League (PCL), amassing 628 runs from nine matches, which included a score of 211 against Windward Islands Volcanoes.
"I think young Hope is technically sound. To score double hundreds at any level, you must be able to bat for a long period of time," said Simmons, the former Ireland coach, who was appointed to the vacant position of West Indies head coach following the conclusion of the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup last month.
"He showed that in the practice match he can bat for a long period of time, and that's a big thing with young cricketers now. Some of them just want to go out and play shots, but he showed that he has the temperament."
Brathwaite, 26, has been on the fringe of Test selection for some time, having already turned out in the shorter versions for West Indies.
"Young Brathwaite, he just bowled like a Test bowler, like an international bowler in the practice game, and hit his lines and his length and troubled the batsmen right through, so good things to be seen," said Simmons.
The former West Indies allrounder took over the top job last week and said it feels great to be working with the players.
"I'm a proud West Indian, and it feels great to be back in the Caribbean working with the West Indies team," he said.
"It has only been a week so far, but I am happy with our preparations, and everyone is looking forward to the start of the first Test on Monday."
The three Test matches will be played at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua, Grenada National Stadium and Kensington Oval in Barbados.