WI ready for Aussies, says Simmons
ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC):
West Indies head coach Phil Simmons says he does not believe the controversy surrounding the axing of veteran left-hander Shiv Chanderpaul has impacted negatively on the side's focus ahead of the opening Test against Australia starting tomorrow.
Regional selectors have come under fire last week for their decision to axe Chanderpaul from the squad, with former batting star Brian Lara going as far as to call for his re-inclusion in the squad.
However, Simmons said the Windies had gone about the business of preparing for the series in a professional manner.
"I don't think the team has been distracted. I think we came yesterday, and we looked like we wanted to practice, and we started practising properly," the Trinidadian told reporters here yesterday.
"Today will show the same thing and tomorrow. It's about the team, and we just have to make sure that we are ready as a team for the Test match on Wednesday."
Chanderpaul averages nearly 50 in 20 Tests against Australia, and boasts an overall Test average of 51 from 164 Tests. He has also scored 11,867 runs, along with 30 centuries.
In his absence, selectors have drafted in two uncapped players, with wicketkeeper-batsman Shane Dowrich and opener Rajindra Chandrika named in the 14-member squad for the first Test.
Simmons said he was thrilled by the morale in the squad and pointed out they were trying to build on the momentum gained from the 1-1 draw in the recent three-Test series against England.
"We're always confident. Once we prepare properly, which we have been doing regularly - in the England series we did that and we're doing that now - so once you prepare properly, you have to be confident about what the team can do," Simmons stressed.
"We played well in the three Test matches [against England]. We need to improve because it's Australia - no disrespect to England - and we're trying to do that as much as possible."
The first Test will be played at Windsor Park here, with the second bowling off at Sabina Park in Jamaica on June 11.