Experienced batsman Lendl Simmons has become the fourth player named in the original West Indies 15-man squad to pull out of the imminent ICC World Twenty20 Championship in India.
Well-placed sources told Barbados TODAY that the 31-year-old Simmons is apparently nursing a back injury and missed the current West Indies camp in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after quietly returning to his native Trinidad and Tobago for treatment, having just recently played in the inaugural Pakistan Super League for Karachi Kings, also in Dubai.
According to the sources, Simmons was told by a specialist doctor in Port-of-Spain that he was not fit enough to play in the March 8 to April 3 tournament, which West Indies won four years ago in Sri Lanka.
Simmons’ withdrawal has left the Clive Lloyd-chaired selection panel fairly busy debating his replacement.
Two members of the panel are out of the region. Lloyd is in the UAE with the West Indies squad and Eldine Baptiste is in South with the West Indies Women’s team. The other selectors are the experienced Courtney Browne of Barbados, Jamaican Courtney Walsh and West Indies head coach Phil Simmons, who is the uncle of Lendl Simmons.
Coincidentally the other players who withdrew from the squad are also Trinidadians – big-hitting batting all-rounder Kieron Pollard, “mystery” off-spinner Sunil Narine and elegant batsman Darren Bravo.
The four have a combined 125 T20 Internationals between them with Pollard (45), Narine and Simmons (34 each) and Bravo (12).
All four were members of the champion West Indies team under the captaincy of all-rounder Darren Sammy in the 2012 tournament in Sri Lanka, but only Simmons and Narine played in the 2014 edition in Bangladesh.
After first announcing the squad on January 29, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) stated that it “will assemble in the United Arab Emirates for a camp from February 22 to March 6”.
“They will then travel to Kolkata on March 7 ahead of the tournament,” the release added.
On February 12, however, the WICB said Pollard and Narine had pulled out. Pollard cited a lack of sufficient progress in his rehabilitative work on an injured knee, which he sustained last December, while Narine reckoned he had not made enough progress in the rehabilitative work on his bowling action.
Of significance was the fact that Narine had been picked though being banned from bowling in International cricket.
Pollard was replaced by Carlos Brathwaite, the burly Barbados fast bowling all-rounder, while Narine’s place was taken by Ashley Nurse, the Barbados off-spinner.
Pollard had not played any form of cricket since last November, when a knee injury abruptly ended his Ram Slam T20 Challenge campaign and ruled him out of the Big Bash League. Both Pollard and Narine had last turned out for West Indies on November 11, against Sri Lanka in Colombo.
On February 14, the WICB announced that Darren Bravo had since written to the selectors to say, “indeed I’m very grateful and humbled for the opportunity to represent the West Indies cricket team at the World Cup. However, I’m of the firm belief that I have a very big part to play in the resurgence of West Indies cricket in the longer formats of the game and I will like the opportunity to play in our Professional Cricket League (PCL) because it will put me in good stead and will allow me to achieve those goals that I have aligned myself for the year 2016 and beyond.”
Johnson Charles, the attacking Windward Islands batsman, replaced him.
Bravo, however, is yet to represent Trinidad & Tobago Red Force in the PCL first-class Championship this season although he played domestic cricket in Trinidad last weekend, scoring 75 in a six-wicket win for defending champions Queen’s Park Cricket Club against Powergen in the Trinidad & Tobago Cricket Board 50-over Premiership Tournament.
Up to the time of tonight’s publication, key officials of the WICB could not be reached for information on Lendl Simmons as they were busy in Kingston, Jamaica, for the first quarterly meeting of directors for the year, to be followed tomorrow by the 18th annual general meeting of directors and shareholders of which the latter can question the directors on their stewardship.
Meantime, as the Barbados Pride squad practised at Kensington Oval this morning in preparation for their ninth and penultimate round Professional Cricket League first-class match against Trinidad & Tobago Red Force in Couva, starting March 11, there was debate over whether the Barbadian pair of versatile batting all-rounder Jonathan Carter or veteran batting all-rounder Dwayne Smith, who played for champions Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League, would get the nod as Simmons’ replacement.