Phil Simmons’ West Indies didn’t win the three-match Test series against the England. But neither did they lose it.
And their resilience and show of character in the third and final Test at Kensington Oval which they won by five wickets in three days, have made head coach Simmons a very happy man.
Speaking after the game, Simmons, the former Trinidad and Tobago and West Indies batsman, said the players had worked hard the last four weeks and the five-wicket victory was a huge bonus for the team.
“Everybody showed character because for the bowlers to bowl out England for such a low score it is just massive character that is coming out at this early stage in my tenure. So it is really great for me to see that,” Simmons said.
Simmons, who received rave reviews during his lengthy coaching stint with Ireland, said his present vision was not getting the current West Indies Test team back to the top, but rather to play better cricket. He added that so far being at the helm had been enjoyable.
“I am enjoying my role. I don’t think my role is getting us back up [to the top]. I think my role is making us play Test cricket properly and with playing test cricket properly, we will get to where we deserve
to be from the way we play. I am loving it and it has been great for the last four weeks.”
West Indies were set a target of 190 to win yesterday and duly reached their goal with number three batsman Darren Bravo scoring 82 and Man of the Match Jermaine Blackwood’s unbeaten 47 seeing them home.
Captain Denesh Ramdin said after the game that since West Indies’ recent tour of South Africa he had seen a difference in attitude from the players.
“We came back home and we worked on our game, under a new head coach. We worked really hard for the last four weeks which was brilliant. I have never seen a team work so hard and push themselves so hard and want success. Young Kraigg Brathwaite that hundred he scored, Jermaine Blackwood his first century [in Antigua] and man of the match today was fantastic and all the young guys who have been coming through and really pushing themselves to do well,” Ramdin said.
Looking ahead to the Australia tour of the Caribbean, Ramdin said he knew it was going to be hard coming up against the Aussies but gave the assurance the team would be ready to play some good cricket.
“It is going to be hard in the next series but we are up for it. I think we have more belief in ourselves; that we could bat out
a last day; we could chase down score on a last day; beat teams that are ranked higher than us. If we show that commitment and belief we can go out there and execute our plans. Australia is coming with a very tough team but we will try to play some good cricket and see what happens,” Ramdin explained.
The drawn series has seen England drop in the ICC Test rankings. They have slipped to fourth after looking set to hang on to third spot behind South Africa and Australia when they took a 1-0 lead in the second Test in Grenada. They have been overtaken by Pakistan but can return to the top three without playing if Pakistan fail to beat Bangladesh in Mirpur this week.
England’s defeat yesterday has also drawn criticism from the British media but coach Peter Moores has suggested there is no need for the ECB to initiate an enquiry into the team’s failure to win the series, as many have suggested.
“I don’t because I think if anybody’s come to watch and they’ve watched on television, they’ve seen a mix of some senior players and also some young players play some excellent cricket.
“They’ve made some mistakes and in this game it’s cost us a Test match and we’ve ended up drawing the series.
“We very nearly won the first Test and credit to the West Indies –– I thought they fought hard all the way through and from that point of view you give them their credit by getting a win at the end to draw the series.”
But Moores accepted it was a disappointing outcome to a tour that promised so much.
“We’re frustrated because we felt we dominated the first two games, it’s a great opportunity to come here and win a Test match,” added the England coach.
“We’ve had chances to really put the opposition under extreme pressure. We haven’t always taken those options all the way through so there’s a ruthlessness we need to develop as a team,” he said.
West Indies remain in eighth position in the ICC rankings. They start the series against Australia on June 5 at Windsor Park in Roseau, Dominica.