Phil Simmons wants domestic cricket in West Indies to improve © AFP
Phil Simmons wants domestic cricket in West Indies to improve © AFP

West Indies‘ head coach Phil Simmons goes vocal about his concerns for his team’s lack of performance in Test series against recently dethroned Indian Test side. The Caribbean side’s performance was far from impressive barring one match-saving effort in second Test. Apart from that there were not enough positives to take forward from the Test series. Simmons believes that the reason behind team’s inability to perform against quality Test side is the gap between Caribbean’s domestic circuit and the international front. They also lacked in experience when needed the most which resulted in batting collapse at various occasions in crunch situations. The fourth Test was abandoned after a mere 22 overs on Day One and saved them from further misery in Test series. ALSO READ: Phil Simmons: West Indies bowlers performed better on Day 2

Simmons told ESPNCricinfo, “I think the series was a little bit too up-and-down. We played well across maybe two hours, three hours sometimes, and the next two hours we would be down. And I think that was, for me, the major disappointment. We’ve shown that we can do things but not consistently enough. We batted well in Jamaica, but we went and did the same things we did in the first Test [again] in the third Test. It’s disappointing that we weren’t consistent enough.” ALSO READ: Match report: India vs West Indies 4th Test called off; visitors win series 2-0

Simmons also feels that some of the batsmen need to work on their technique in order to survive against quality bowlers. He said, “I think in some cases you have to adjust techniques, which is a sad thing because it’s something that we should be doing at a level below. I think the same thing with mentality because when we come up here it’s a lot harder to get runs and get wickets. I think at our domestic level it’s a lot easier, that patience and that time at the crease and things, if we bat two sessions in a domestic game a lot of the guys playing here would have a hundred or more. But if you bat two sessions here, it might be 60 or 70, so the patience at the domestic level is not tested as much as up here.”

Simmons recommend more co-ordination between international coaching staff and the ones involved with domestic circuit to share ideas, techniques in order to improve domestic cricket as well. He said, “I think in some cases you have to adjust techniques, which is a sad thing because it’s something that we should be doing at a level below. I think the same thing with mentality because when we come up here it’s a lot harder to get runs and get wickets. I think at our domestic level it’s a lot easier, that patience and that time at the crease and things, if we bat two sessions in a domestic game a lot of the guys playing here would have a hundred or more. But if you bat two sessions here, it might be 60 or 70, so the patience at the domestic level is not tested as much as up here,”

“You and me might be two coaches and might coach differently but the same objective we have to have. If we don’t have the same objective, then we spin it up in muddles. I think that’s lacking. It’s quite a few things to be fixed, but at the end of the day the quality of cricket that is downstairs is not good enough for the maturity of the players to be quicker.”

He also feels that the management needs to allocate more funds to improve facilities provided at domestic level. He said, “Things like our pitches and our practice facilities need to be better, a lot better, in order to produce players, not just fast bowlers as we’re lacking now, but batsmen, because the better the pitches the better batsmen show themselves. Little things like that we need to put in place. The gap between [Test cricket] and our cricket needs to be filled, whether it can be done with an academy, which we don’t have right now, A-team cricket, which we have one [series] a year, we should have two to three a year. Something has to be done to fill that gap, you know? We’re missing a few things.”

Simmons was quite surprised by how things turned out to be at Queen’s Park level. He was disappointed by the fact that the play could not continue despite sun shining bright after heavy rain. He said, “Extremely surprised, because, as far as I know, in my years here, this has never been a ground like that,” he said. “I don’t know what is the position is over on the other side [the ground officials], but it was really bad and after two days of sun, and when I saw it yesterday morning, I couldn’t believe how bad it was. I don’t know what the position is there and what caused that, but I’m surprised and I never expected that here.”

“I don’t know about [whether we need an] extended camp because you just played four Test matches, well three-and-a-quarter Test matches, back-to-back, and we underestimate the power of rest after Test matches, but we also have two T20s [against India in Florida]. We also have a one-day squad and T20 squad for the first part of the Pakistan series.

“So from the point of view of being together, we’re trying to get the Test team to the UAE early enough, so that we can have enough practice time before the first two-day game. And this is something that I keep trying to get when we go on tour because I think it’s harder on tour. If we get two, sometimes three practice games before the first Test match, then that would be ideal.

“Some places we can’t get it, but we have to keep trying to get that because we see that we improve [with warm-up games]. On the other side, it’s a case of us trying not to slack off now as players and coaches, and make sure that players continue to do what we’ve been doing over the last two weeks, with their technique and temperament and everything like that.”

Talking about positives from the Test series, he said, “[Samuels’] Test career still stands there,” Simmons said. “[Younger players] are pushing him which is nice because when you have people pushing you from outside, you either get pushed out or you lift your game. So, I think it’s a case where you have youngsters pushing him now, and that’s good for the team. Same thing with Shannon [Gabriel] and a few young fast bowlers coming out, Jason [Holder], everybody. You need that second team that’s up to the standard to push people so that they continue to produce. The great West Indies team had that, the great Australia team had that, so that’s what we need here.”

He also talked about Darren Bravo’s bad run in the Test series, “[Samuels’] Test career still stands there,” Simmons said. “[Younger players] are pushing him which is nice because when you have people pushing you from outside, you either get pushed out or you lift your game. So, I think it’s a case where you have youngsters pushing him now, and that’s good for the team. Same thing with Shannon [Gabriel] and a few young fast bowlers coming out, Jason [Holder], everybody. You need that second team that’s up to the standard to push people so that they continue to produce. The great West Indies team had that, the great Australia team had that, so that’s what we need here.”