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Lendl Simmons: West Indies’ promising batsman who is yet to make his presence felt in international cricket

Lendl Simmons © Getty Images
Lendl Simmons has played 55 ODIs for West Indies and scored 1,588 runs with one century and 13 half-centuries © Getty Images

Lendl Simmons, nephew of former West Indian batting all-rounder Phil Simmons has shown glimpses of burgeoning promise with his batting fireworks and as a useful military medium pacer in his short career. But an average of 17.37 in Test cricket and 31.13 in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) just doesn’t do justice to his raw potential. Bharath Ramaraj has more…

As a 20-year-old prodigy in 2006, when Lendl Simmons exhibited a few noteworthy strokes on the on-side against Umar Gul, Naved-ul-Hasan Rana and Adul Razzaq during West Indies’ ill-fated tour of Pakistan in a One-Day International (ODI) at Lahore, he was hailed as the one to watch out for from the Caribbean Islands.

Since then, he has shone brightly with a few sparks from his willow and has wowed the crowd too. In the ICC World T20 2009, his attacking brand of batsmanship against a formidable South African pace attack  at The Oval made a nervous opposition team chomp their nails in fear of losing the match, before West Indies fell short by a mere 20 runs. Days, though, have turned into months and months into years, but just like a surfeit of West Indian cricketers in the last two decades, he continues to flounder at the top echelons of the game, and there is a good chance of him disappearing into the oblivion soon. The only ton he has essayed came against the lowly Bangladesh team at Dhaka in an ODI series in 2011. Unfortunately from his perspective that reality-altering innings is certainly missing from his armour.

If we scratch the surface, underneath, it becomes even more evident that Simmons has always been picked more on promise rather than backed up by a stackful of runs. Right from his Under-19 days in the early 2000s to playing First-Class cricket for Trinidad and Tobago, he has largely been an underperformer. If anything, it was him scaling dizzying heights for West Indies A against England in 2009 when he made 282 against a fine attack consisting of James Anderson, Steve Harmison and Graeme Swann that gave genuine hope of his ability to stand toe-toe with the best in the business. But it proved to be another false dawn in his career.

The only time Simmons looked set to notch up a fine score in Tests was against Pakistan in 2011 at Providence Stadium, Guyana. But even then he couldn’t crack the code of converting a start to something substantial by getting out to wily off-spinner Saeed Ajmal for 49. Incidentally, that innings of 49 remains his highest score in Test cricket.

In what seems like a revolving-door policy from selectors, even now Simmons gets called up to play on that odd occasion for West Indies. He took part in that recently concluded series in New Zealand, but again with little success.

Sadly, Lendl Simmons, just like his uncle Phil Simmons, may turn out to be a case of what might have been. He needs to back up his raw gift-wrapped potential with runs, as in the end, it is about how many runs you score. Time is definitely running out for talented cricketer from Trinidad and Tobago indeed!

(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)

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