Prominent Caribbean cricket commentator Fazeer Mohammad does not believe newly appointed West Indies head coach Phil Simmons is up to the task and that the longer version of the game has become impotent and irrelevant to regional players.
Speaking on the Mason and Guest radio talk show last night, Mohammad said Simmons’ ability to make a difference would depend on the system being different.
“You are getting all sorts of platitudes from the Trinis especially Darren Bravo who voiced his support for Phil Simmons. Dwayne Bravo over the weekend voiced his support and suggested that he might have to re-think his retirement from Test cricket with Simmons as coach. All of that really doesn’t make a lot of sense. It just sounds like people believe that because he is a fellow Trinidadian he is going to look favourably on them. Then they have missed the point on what having a coach is about in the first place,” Mohammad said.
“Simmons is going to be frustrated. He is probably going to end up like Ottis Gibson. I just feel sorry for anybody who takes up the role as coach of the West Indies in the present circumstances,” Mohammad added.
Mohammad raised the point that West Indies cricket had become powerless because its management had dropped the ball and failed to show players how important it should be to play for the West Indies. He cited the fact that opener Chris Gayle would not be playing in the upcoming Test series against England in a few weeks time but would be playing in the Indian Premier League.
He explained that Gayle who recently signed a contract with Somerset and spinner Sunil Narine knew how “their bread is buttered”.
“He [Gayle] knows that he is a huge draw in T20 cricket and it is a bit of a chore to play Test cricket with a struggling team against an Australian side that are probably going to win both test matches once rain doesn’t get in the way. So why go through the hassle of five days of Test cricket when you can make many more times that amount of money and be considered a superstar playing IPL.
“I think it just reflects very badly on how our senior players regard playing for the West Indies and that has something to do with the way the entire system and the entire process is managed,” said Mohammad, who added that left up to him neither Gayle nor Narine would be on the West Indies squad.
“I just think we need to pick players who are committed to playing for the West Indies. Whether it is a Chris Gayle or Sunil Narine or Dwayne Bravo or anyone else who the selectors have determined is not all that interested in playing for the West Indies, I am not saying automatically it is, but if the evidence suggests that they are more preoccupied with T20 tournaments and franchise cricket, you say ‘thank you very much, enjoy your careers’ and let’s build our West Indies team all over again,” he said.
The Trinidadian-born Mohammad also shared the view that players such as Lendl Simmons came into the West Indies side and started to make runs and build confidence and then had to make way for Gayle or someone else.
“What are the benefits of having our so-called established players back in the team when we are losing anyway. You either have to develop a consistent policy of moving forward or you are going to keep taking two steps forward and five steps back like we have been doing for the past 20 years,” he said.
Both Narine and Gayle, in particular, have consistently declined to sign WICB retainer contracts committing them to representing the regional side.