PORT OF SPAIN –– West Indies Twenty20 stars Dwayne Bravo and Lendl Simmons have announced their retirement from Test cricket. But newly appointed West Indies coach Phil Simmons appears to want them back in the fold.
In fact, Simmons, the uncle of Lendl, has indicated his intention to meet with the two, as well as off-spinner Sunil Narine, compatriot Kieron Pollard and Jamaican all-rounder Andre Russell as soon as they return to the Caribbean from India where they are playing in the Indian Premier League.
Bravo, 31, and Lendl Simmons, 30, announced their Test retirement earlier in the year, while Pollard took an “indefinite break” from first-class cricket around the same time. Russell has previously indicated he was not physically capable of playing the long form of the game because of dodgy knees. Narine has been sidelined due to questions about his bowling action but has previously chosen to play for his IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders rather than the West Indies.
Bravo’s last Test was in 2010 against Sri Lanka, while his last One-Day International was on the aborted 2014 India tour when as captain he led the players revolt in a pay dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the West Indies Players Association. Bravo was a member of the West Indies Twenty20 team to South Africa where he played his last match on January 14. Simmons played his last Test in 2011 in Chittagong. Russell, 27, has not added to the solitary Test he played in Galle in 2010. Chief selector Clive Lloyd has previously sang the praises of Russell, rating him as potentially one of the best allrounders in world cricket. Narine has played only six Tests since making his debut against England 11 years, while Pollard is yet to play Test cricket.
Simmons, who was appointed coach in March and had a promising 1-1 result in the home series against England, has expressed an eagerness to encourage a better relationship between the West Indies team and the region’s IPL participants. Prior to his retirement, Bravo had publicly stated his desire to return to the Test team.
“Obviously everybody wants to see those guys playing Test cricket for the West Indies because they are certainly good enough to play that format,” Simmons said to the media in his homeland.
“I’m not aware of Bravo’s statement, but I haven’t spoken to any of them since I became coach. I hope to sit down with them and discuss my, and the selectors, vision for how we want West Indies to play Test cricket going forward and how they possibly fit into that. I can’t rule anybody in or out of consideration until I do so,” Simmons said.
However, it remains to be seen whether these discussions can take place quickly enough to allow any of the quintet to be part of the team to face Australia in two Test matches next month. While Narine’s IPL franchise, Kolkata Knight Riders, are no longer in contention in the 2015 IPL, both Simmons and Pollard’s Mumbai Indians are still in with a chance of winning the competition, as well as Bravo’s Chennai Super Kings
Simmons suggested that the WICB should look to the likes of New Zealand for an example of forming a better relationship between IPL-contracted players and the West Indies team. New Zealand have accepted that the financial rewards on offer to IPL players, relative to their international income, requires a degree of flexibility to allow them to take part in both.
Simmons said he had also discussed the future with West Indies middle-order batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul ahead of the Australia series, though he did not divulge their plans. The Guyanese left-hander who turns 41 in a few weeks has had two forgettable back-to-back series against South Africa and England.
Simmons did not address the BDS$84 million debt owed to the Board of Control for Cricket in India following the Bravo-lead West Indies tour to India that was prematurely aborted.