Simmons turns focus to Sri Lanka tour
The West Indies senior men’s team have had a torrid time in recent weeks with white-ball cricket at the T20 World Cup, and head coach Phil Simmons is keen on getting back to winning ways with the Test side, which is set to resume red-ball action against Sri Lanka in just over a week.
The two-Test series in Galle could not come any sooner for the regional men, and Simmons believes that his side can replicate their longer version form, which they showed towards the early part of the year.
“After a huge disappointment like that, we want to get back to winning ways, especially winning away, which we did at the start of the year. It would be nice to finish the year the way how we started it,” said Simmons.
That winning way began in February of this year with a morale-boosting 2-0 series victory against Bangladesh in their backyard, with players such as Nkrumah Bonner, Kyle Mayers, and Rahkeem Cornwall coming up big on that tour.
Having conquered the spin threat that Bangladesh posed, Simmons is expecting pretty much the same in Galle, and the coaching staff has already begun to devise a plan to counter that threat.
FOCUS GOING INTO THE GAME
“I think it will be a heavy dose of spin coming from them because we saw that when they played England. They opened the bowling with a spinner. So we are going to be focusing a lot on how we combat that spin with the new ball and then bat as normal after that,” added Simmons.
Like Sri Lanka, the West Indies have made sure that they have also equipped their side with spinners, with as many as three slow bowlers plus all-rounder Roston Chase at their disposal.
With a four-day practice game to precede the first Test, Simmons indicated who would get the nod to lead the spin bowling attack.
“We have a lot of spinners, and so far on away tours, Rahkeem Cornwall has been the number-one spinner in Bangladesh at the start of the year, so I would say Rahkeem would be your first-choice spinner.”
Another player who Simmons expects much of is fast bowler Shannon Gabriel, who has disappointed so far this year with only nine wickets in five Test matches in 2021.
However, Gabriel has done a lot better when the team plays away, following 17 wickets in five matches last year, and with that, Simmons hopes the strapping fast bowler can replicate that form in Galle.
“Shannon is one of our senior bowlers and has been, for several years, the best bowler away from the Caribbean seam-wise. He does command that respect outside of the Caribbean, so we will have to see where things are after the four-day game and what combination we want to go with,” added Simmons.