“There seems to be a lot of exposed electrical wire all over the place and people are getting shocked left, right and centre.” The words of Azim Bassarath president of the T&T Cricket Board (TTCB) responding to Phil Simmons suspension by the WICB management committee.
Simmons was suspended and will miss the tour of Sri Lanka over comments he made at a press conference in Barbados. The former West Indies all rounder said there was outside interference that was keeping all rounders Dwayne Bravo and Keiron Pollard out of the West Indies ODI team and that he did not have the strongest team at his disposal in Sri Lanka.
The WICB management committee of Michael Muirhead and Richard Pybus decided to suspend Simmons and replace him in the interim with selector Eldine Baptiste. Bassarath who also sits as a director on the WICB said the matter of Simmons’ suspension never came to the directors of the board which he found shocking. “It is strange that a decision is made by the management committee concerning something as serious as this and it did not come to the board.
When Simmons was interviewed for the post of coach the board had to ratify it, so I don’t agree with the management committee making this decision all by themselves.”
Bassarath added that the main point of contention was the fact that the management committee acted in great haste when Simmons never attacked the board with his comments.
“Simmons never said where the ‘outside’ interference came from and it is shocking to see the haste in which he was suspended. This to me is very strange, they could have called him in and find out where he thinks the ‘outside’ influence was coming from and then go from there. Supposed it was coming from people in the public domain? The management committee by there actions is making it look as if he is speaking about the WICB when he talks about outside influence.”
On Sunday, Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell labelled as “disturbing” claims by Simmons, of outside interference in the selection process.
Mitchell, the Chairman of Caricom’s Sub Committee on Cricket Governance, said any selection panel needed to be “free of interference, fear, or favour,” and joined with Simmons condemning “any act that undermined his leadership and the discretion of the Board of Selectors to field the best team.”
“It is my view that West Indies cricket is fortunate to have a leadership team that includes head coach Phil Simmons, captain Jason Holder and chairman of selectors, Clive Lloyd,” Mitchell said in a statement.
“The team is now at an important crossroads, and it will require wisdom and good leadership to chart and follow the right path. It will therefore take the skill, motivation and priorities of the men who lead and the players who follow, to restore the team to world prominence.”
Mitchell continued: “I fully endorse the sentiments and position taken by the Chairman of Selectors and the head coach, and I join with Simmons in condemning any act that undermined his leadership and the discretion of the board of selectors to field the best team.”
Simmons was appointed West Indies head coach in March after nearly eight years in charge of Ireland’s side. He subsequently presided over a 1-1 draw in a three-match series against England and a 2-0 defeat to Australia.