Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Ambrose questions timing of Simmons’ sacking

Published:Saturday | September 17, 2016 | 9:00 AM
Phil Simmons (left) and Curtly Ambrose during a West Indies training sessIon at Kensington Oval in Barbados last year.

ST JOHN'S, Antigua (CMC):

Former West Indies fast bowler Curtly Ambrose has questioned the dismissal of Phil Simmons as head coach on the eve of the team's series against Pakistan in all formats.

Ambrose, who was fired as bowling consultant under the advice of Simmons in May this year, has criticised the timing as poor.

Simmons, a former West Indies all-rounder, was fired hours before the players boarded a flight for the United Arab Emirates to play Pakistan in three T20s, Three one day internationals and the same number of Test matches.

"The timing is wrong, to be quite blunt," declared Ambrose.

"This happened when we went to Sri Lanka last year, as well when Simmons made a statement about interference in team selection, and about two or three days before we left for Sri Lanka, they suspended him, which was wrong."

Simmons' sacking has triggered angry responses from an increasing number of cricketers and officials who have condemned the decision.

They include cricketers Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy, the former T20 captain who was also sacked after leading Windies to two T20 World titles, as well as commentator Fazeer Mohammed, and Grenada's Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell.

"If you weren't happy with the things he said, why pull a coach off a [tour] two or three days before?" questioned Ambrose.

"All they had to do was maybe send him some correspondence saying they were not happy and they would deal with it when he gets back, and now this time around, it's the same thing."

West Indies face Pakistan next Friday in their first T20.

THREAT TO TEAM MORALE

Ambrose believes the firing of Simmons by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) represents a threat to team morale.

"The morale of the team can't be good because when you would have at least had a camp and then you learn one or two days before departure that your coach isn't going to be around because he's been fired, it must send the wrong message," he said.

In an interview with the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), Mohammed, said Simmons was dismissed for exposing conflict in West Indies team selection, while Prime Minister Mitchell said the dismissal was motivated by "spite and vendetta".

The Grenadian leader, who has been spearheading efforts to restructure the WICB as Chairman of CARICOM's sub-committee on cricket governance, has described the WICB as "inflexible and autocratic".

The WICB said its decision to fire Simmons was based on public pronouncements of the coach as well as differences in culture and strategic approach.

"If you look back at the last 10 or 12 years or so, we had quite a few coaches who came and went and the performances have been the same, so I am not so sure if the coaching or the coach is the problem," said Ambrose.

"We need to look at the players themselves and ask a few questions. Are these players good enough to compete with the top teams in the world?"