Third vice-president of the T&T Cricket Board (TTCB) Patrick Rampersad has called for an immediate enquiry into allegations recently made by suspended coach of the West Indies team Phil Simmons, and plans to raise his concerns with TTCB members at an executive meeting today.
Only six months into the job, Simmons was suspended by the WICB on Monday, two days after his outburst in the media in which he alleged “outside interference” in the selection of the team to tour Sri Lanka.
Rampersad plans to place the issue high on today’s meeting agenda of the of the TTCB which is headed by Azim Basarath, who together with Baldath Mahabir are directors of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).
Simmons also stated that he had not been given the best ODI squad even though the new captain Jason Holder also wanted Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard in the team, the omissions of both players may have caused the development of the latest controversy.
Yesterday, Rampersad, an influential member of the TTCB, said that although he did not condone the method used by Simmons to air his dissatisfaction with the decision of the selection panel, he must have thought it important enough to take the position he did.
“Simmons would have known before-hand the consequences of his actions, and we should now seek to find out the truth of the allegations he has made, and if he is correct, what is going to be done about it,” said Rampersad.
The president of the 2015 NGC T20 champion team Merry Boys Cricket Club said that the utterances of Simmons reflects the general feeling of people on the ground and cricket fans in T&T, that their players have been left holding the sticky end of the stick following the aborted West Indies tour of India late last year because of a pay dispute with the WICB.
Also, the TTCB had supported two candidates opposed to incumbents Dave Cameron and Emmanuel Nanthan in elections for the presidency and vice-presidency of the WICB earlier this year.
And previous to that, the TTCB had also voted against Clive Lloyd in the previous WICB elections, who now is the chairman of selectors, a panel which also include Courtney Walsh, Eldine Baptiste and Courtney Browne.
Interestingly Denesh Ramdin, Bravo and Merissa Aguilleira, who are all from T&T, were coincidentally removed as captains of the West Indies Test, ODI and Women’s teams respectively in September.
In a media release on Tuesday, WICB chief executive Michael Muirhead, said Simmons has not been fired, but has been asked to answer “breaches of confidentiality,” after the former West Indies allrounder and successful Ireland coach was suspended because of his public statements.
Muirhead said they hoped to reach a decision on Simmons’ future in the next seven days.
“What has happened with Phil Simmons is most unfortunate. Rest assured he has not been fired,” he said. “Let us say he has been called to answer breaches of confidentiality and bringing the WICB into disrepute. He will be given a fair hearing by a panel and a decision will be made within the boundaries of our own HR policy.
“During the process he will continue to enjoy the full benefits of his full remuneration. The matter will be dealt with in an expeditious manner and it is our intention to have a decision within the next seven working days.”
Lloyd also issued a statement saying such outbursts could not be excused. Simmons had said that he and Lloyd had been in agreement about wanting Bravo and Pollard back in the ODI squad, but had been outvoted 3-2 by the other selectors.
“Phil has apologised to all for his recent public statements and how strongly he would have felt on certain selection matters of the team,” Lloyd said. “We agreed—at times—that we will have a difference of opinion, but we cannot condone such outbursts. Therefore, we will always seek discussion and dialogue at every stage of the selection process and work towards the best interest of West Indies cricket.”
His comments came before the squad was officially announced by the WICB. An e-mail from Muirhead informed Simmons of his suspension with immediate effect, six months after he had taken up the job.
Former fast bowler and selector Baptiste was handed the role of interim coach for the tour of Sri Lanka. Simmons was selected ahead of Baptiste earlier this year for the job as coach of the West Indies team.