Discarded West Indies players Shai Hope and Roston Chase will have to fight their way back into the Test team, after not being selected for the matches against Sri Lanka.
Hope, widely viewed to be one of the region’s most talented batsmen, was dropped from the team after a poor run of form in November last year. Chase, the consistent all-rounder, at the same time replaced Kraigg Brathwaite as vice-captain ahead of the New Zealand series.
Both players were called to the team ahead of the Bangladesh series but were among 12 players to decline due to health and safety concerns.
Hope has since returned to the ODI squad, where he looked to be in strong form. Chase, who initially missed out on the minimum fitness requirement ahead of the series, put on a strong display in the warm-up tour matches. Both players remain on the sideline, so far. For now, according to Simmons, however, the current players are doing well enough to keep their places.
“The guys who played in the Test matches have done well, so we need to continue to back the guys who have done well in the last three Test matches,” Simmons told members of the media via a Zoom press conference.
“The way I look at it is the guys did well. The guys went to Bangladesh, each one of the batsmen did well. They earned their places. So, it is a case where they continue to play and play well,” he added.
“Roston, Shai, those other players will have to fight their way back in, and that is just how cricket goes.”
Simmons has also backed the team’s strike bowler Shannon Gabriel to bounce back following a poor showing against Sri Lanka in the first Test.
The 32-year-old pace bowler had a first Test to forget, failing to claim a wicket for the match. Overall, he ended with figures of 0 for 89 in 27 overs. The bowler last went wicketless in a match last year, in the second Test against England where he ended 0 for 122.
In assessing the player’s most recent performances, however, Simmons dismissed Gabriel’s first-match struggles as just a blip and looked forward to a much better showing in the second Test.
“I thought in Bangladesh, he bowled exceptionally well in both Test matches and he was the main one, on the occasion in the first Test, who turned things around with his spell in the evening,” Simmons said in an assessment of the player’s recent form.
“He had a bad game and bowlers have that. Two of the main bowlers did not have a good game but that’s one game,” he added.
“I think he has been unsung, in New Zealand he was unsung, in Bangladesh he was unsung, so, one bad game does not change him being the strike bowler.”
In New Zealand, despite a tough series for the regional team, Gabriel, who was the pick of the bowlers, extracted plenty of pace and bounce from the surface to claim six wickets in two matches, where New Zealand only batted once.