Former West Indies head coach, Ottis Gibson, is glad that the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has appointed another West Indian as his replacement.
And although he has acknowledged it won’t be an easy job, Gibson is backing the regional side’s newest head coach, Phil Simmons to do a sterling job.
His comments came on the heels of today’s announcement by the WICB that Simmons, a Trinidadian, will take over the post left vacant by Gibson’s controversial sacking seven months ago. Simmons has signed a three-year contract.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY this afternoon, Gibson –– who coached the West Indies from 2010-2014 –– said he felt confident the former West Indies all-rounder had the ability to turn the regional outfit’s fortunes around.
“I think the appointment is great news for the West Indies. I always believed that the job as head coach should have gone to a West Indian and Phil [Simmons] has shown he is more than capable of handling the job,” the former Barbados and West Indies fast bowler said during a telephone interview from England.
“He is a very experienced coach and I am sure that he will do very well. He’s done an absolutely great job while coaching Ireland over the past few years where he has led them to international success.”
When asked if he had any advice for the 51-year-old Simmons, who played 26 Tests and 143 ODI’s for the West Indies between 1987 and 1999, Gibson insisted the Trinidadian was more than capable of handling himself.
“It’s certainly not an easy job coaching the West Indies, but Phil doesn’t need any advice from me,” a laughing Gibson explained.
“He knows his way around international cricket. He will have his own ideas to bring to the table and once the guys give him their support I’m sure he will be very successful.”
“The talent is there because there is an abundance of good cricketers throughout the islands…it is up to him to harness this talent. I really believe this is a great opportunity for him to bring success to the region.”
Chief executive officer of the WICB, Michael Muirhead, said Simmons was the right person for the job at this time. Simmons was one of seven people interviewed for the position
“We are thrilled with the appointment of Phil and we believe he is the right individual for our team and our region at this time, so we want to welcome him back home. Phil has a proven ability to develop players, while cultivating great team spirit and a winning culture. We have a number of young, talented players about whom he is excited to be coaching and we believe he is the right fit.
“Phil has impressed us with his understanding of the current realities of West Indies cricket and his ability to articulate practical examples and strategies of things that could be implemented within the team to improve performance. His independence of character and his resolve to stand up for what he believes in were also strong qualities that convinced us that Phil was best suited to usher the West Indies team into a new era of success,” Muirhead said.
Simmons acknowledged it was difficult to leave Ireland, but said coaching the West Indies team was too good an opportunity to let pass.
“West Indies have a tremendous history and prestige in the game, and I am honoured to have been given this opportunity to be head coach. There is an abundance of young talent coming through the ranks and to be able to assist with the development of the future playing talent in the West Indies is fantastic. I can’t wait to begin and I am looking forward to starting work with the players,” Simmons said.
He added: “I am excited to be beginning this new chapter in my coaching career and to have the opportunity to create a winning culture. West Indies have a huge following across the World and I have great admiration for the passion fans show for our team. We are determined to give the supporters the brand of cricket and the level of success that we are all looking to achieve.”
Simmons helped Ireland’s standing in world cricket grow since he took charge in April 2007. His tenure included 224 matches, making him the longest serving coach in international cricket. During that time, Ireland won 11 trophies and qualified for every major ICC event, beating West Indies and England at the last two World Cups.
“I’ve had eight wonderful years as Ireland’s head coach, and will always cherish the memories of those great days we’ve shared. The wins in the World Cups over Full Members were all special as we showed the world just what Irish cricket is capable of. It was a very difficult decision to leave, but I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to coach my home team. They’re going through a difficult period at the moment, but I’m confident I can help to improve their fortunes,” Simmons stated.
Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom added: “Everyone will miss Phil Simmons. His warmth and strength of values endeared him to everyone. Over the last eight years, Phil has overseen our qualification for every major ICC event, identifying our best young talent, developing our players in skill-levels and self-belief, and producing a series of results that means every team in the world takes us seriously.
“As Phil has contributed to us, so we are proud to have helped him develop his career to the point that he can now pursue his dream of coaching his home team. He leaves with nothing other than our very best wishes.”
Simmons’ first assignment will be to oversee the West Indies team for the international home Test series against England starting next month.