Simmons needs time – Windies legends
West Indies cricket legends Clive Lloyd and Michael Holding are urging Caribbean fans to be patient with new head coach Phil Simmons and captain Kieron Pollard as the regional side begins yet another era of leadership, starting with an away series against Afghanistan early next month.
When the Windies play Afghanistan on November 5 in the first Twenty20 (T20) in Dehradun, they will field their ninth head coach since Roger Harper in 2000 and their 11th T20 captain since Shivnarine Chanderpaul led the team back in 2006.
Lloyd, who spoke to The Gleaner via his United Kingdom base, said Simmons will have a daunting task on his hands in the coming months; however, he is urging pundits to allow the Trinidadian to carry out his mandate without too much pressure.
“It is not going to be easy to get the team to start winning right off the bat,” Lloyd said. “It’s going to take some time, however, Phil is a well-respected coach and Pollard is an experienced captain, and I believe the players should buy into their philosophy right away and work together to achieve one common goal.”
The former West Indies captain said that Simmons’ immediate goal is to build a unit that he can trust, and to put the right people in place to work.
“Immediately, Phil (Simmons) will need to sit the players down and set out a plan,” he said. “That plan must include a clear path as to what the team objectives are and make sure that the players understand the plan.
“There is no doubt that we have an abundance of talent in the region; however, everyone has to be on the same page if we are to start a winning habit again.”
Lloyd, who captained the Windies between 1974 and 1985 said that the players should also work harder on their fitness level if they are to compete with the best teams in the world.
“These current players have to get fitter if they are to improve their game,” he said. “Back in our time, everyone in the team was super fit because we had possibly the best physical trainer available.”
Lloyd’s former teammate, Holding, echoes the sentiments.
“I am happy to see Phil Simmons back as the West Indies coach because he has had success everywhere he has been appointed in the past, both internationally and domestically,” he said.
Holding reiterated that the public should not expect a quick fix to the region’s cricket problems, but to have patience as the team seeks to eke out a winning formula.
“He has been given a four-year contract, so I expect to see improvements in the team as time passes,” he said. “It’s a bit ridiculous to expect immediate excellence from the team because it will take some time for everyone to buy back into wanting to play for the West Indies again. There is a lot of work to be done below the International level regarding infrastructure etcetera to get us back to the heights where we belong.
“Phil’s Immediate mandate should be to build the team spirit and work ethic that he seemed to have had with previous countries he coached. Hopefully, the material with which he will have to build will improve as time goes on.”