Former Barbados and West Indies fast bowler Tino Best and veteran cricket commentator Joseph “Reds” Perreira are predicting that Phil Simmons will be the new head coach of the West Indies team. But both have agreed that cricket icon Desmond Haynes must be allowed to contribute to West Indies cricket in some form.
Haynes, Simmons and interim head coach Floyd Reifer are the three candidates shortlisted from an original pool of 34 applicants, which was then whittled down to six for the purpose of interviews. These interviews were conducted by CWI vice-president Dr Kishore Shallow, director of cricket Jimmy Adams, human resources manager Oneka Martin-Bird, independent director Debra Coryat Patton and United Kingdom-based coaching educator Gordon Lord.
“Based on his curriculum vitae, I think Simmons will get the job. His resume speaks for itself. He coached Ireland and was coach of the West Indies for a short time before he was replaced. His last assignment was with Afghanistan. He is the one with the most international experience of the three candidates which should give him an advantage over Haynes and Reifer,” Best, who is now a cricket pundit of radio and television, told Barbados TODAY.
“I have never had the privilege of being coached by Simmons so I have assessed him based on his international record. He gave yeoman service to Ireland as coach before he resigned from the post and took up the position of head coach of the West Indies. He had marginal success in that role winning a Twenty20 World Cup. If CWI is going for a tried and proven coach, then Simmons is the man for the job,” Best added.
Best said while he had no problem if Haynes was appointed coach, he believed the fact that the former outstanding opening batsman was from a different era and had not held a major coaching position for several years might stand against him.
“Desmond was an exceptional opener, one of the greatest we have produced. He coached in England and South Africa and had a stint as batting coach with the West Indies team a few years ago, but this is a different era. Desmond may be old school in his thinking. Some of our cricketers who are earning millions of dollars are not going to be inspired by Fire in Babylon. I could be wrong but that is my opinion. We are dealing with a different breed of cricketer. If a coach has an old school mentality, he is going to quickly lock horns with these young cricketers. It is very important that a coach be open-minded. A coach should evolve with the times. I am not sure Desmond has done so because he has not been employed as coach for a while,” Best said.
Even though he believed Haynes would not be appointed to the post of head coach, Best said the former West Indies vice-captain still had an important role to play in West Indies cricket.
“CWI should employ Desmond as a batting coach for the A team and the Under 19 cricketers, to teach them the fundamentals of batting. I think Dessie also has a key role to play in correcting batting deficiencies among some of the members of the senior team. We need to keep our great players around West Indies cricket. Dessie is a vital asset to West Indies and we cannot afford not to use him,” he explained.
While Best did not see Reifer being appointed to the post after the West Indies’ disastrous performance at the World Cup and against India in the region, he said the interim coach had it in him to be a future head coach of the team.
“I think that Floyd got thrown in the deep end. He was given the job as interim coach after Richard Pybus was fired. He could not turn down the job because it seemed like a great opportunity for him. I always felt he was given a raw deal, after the success of Pybus and his staff against England everyone thought that the team had turned the corner. We were given a reality check in the World Cup and the series against India. I thought Floyd looked out of his depth in the World Cup and during the series against India, therefore I can’t see how he could get the job. Floyd is still on a learning curve, he was doing a good job with the A team and should go back to that position. I would recommend he seek a head coach post with one of the teams in the Caribbean Premier League, which will give him the opportunity to hone his skills even more. In another five years he will be the perfect person to be head coach,” Best said.
He described Simmons, Haynes and Reifer as three good candidates and expressed his pleasure that they were all West Indians.
“I am not a big fan of having foreign coaches because they don’t always buy into our culture but I accept the fact that in this global age anyone can be appointed coach of the West Indies team,” Best said.
Perreira told Barbados TODAY that all of the indications suggested that Simmons was the frontrunner for the job.
“If you read the tea leaves, you would get the impression that Simmons is the person who will be appointed to the post. This was signalled a while back by various comments made by the leadership of CWI. We just have to wait and see if those impressions would become reality. I feel the combination of Simmons and Haynes would serve West Indies cricket in good stead. Haynes played in the golden era of West Indies cricket, he has the experience of playing all over the world against different bowlers and in varying conditions. He can certainly help our batsmen and I think he has enough knowledge to assist our bowlers with their line and length,” Perreira said.
On the question of Reifer, the veteran commentator said he didn’t believe that the former West Indies left-handed batsman had the experience to be even the second in command to Simmons if the former Trinidad and West Indies opener was chosen to be head coach.