Phil Simmons was sacked on Monday for publicly protesting the exclusion of Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard © AFP
Phil Simmons was sacked on Monday for publicly protesting the exclusion of Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard © AFP

Port-of-Spain (Trinidad): Former West Indies Players Association (WIPA) President Dinanath Ramnarine has called on the cricketing public to speak out in defence of suspended West Indies head coach Phil Simmons after he claimed that outside interference was hampering the selection of the team’s One-Day International squad. Ramnarine said he anticipates further backlash after Simmons publicly protested the omission of Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard from the West Indies squad to tour Sri Lanka next month. Simmons was suspended on Monday, reports CMC. Simmons said both he and chief selector Clive Lloyd had been in favour of the players’ re-inclusion, but the five-member selection panel had voted 3-2 against their inclusion.

“This is a very serious matter and has to be examined. I trust the cricketing community will give Simmons the support he needs,” said Ramnarine on Monday. “I have played under Simmons and he is the most decent, honest and fair human being you would ever come across.”

The issue escalated over the weekend when Grenada’s Prime Minister Keith Mitchell labelled Simmons’ claims as “disturbing” and added that any selection panel needed to be “free of interference, fear, or favour”.

The ODI side for Sri Lanka has not yet been announced by the WICB, and on the basis of Simmons’ announcement, Bravo and Pollard are not expected to be included.

“We cannot allow people like Phil Simmons to fall through the crack because of poor governance structure and be maligned and victimised when those who play the games of the Board have a free ride,” said Ramnarine. “That has to stop. The time has come for the coach to be given full authority.”

Bravo and Simmons were dropped ahead of the ODI series in South Africa last January and also overlooked for the subsequent ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Critics have compared Bravo’s batting average of 25.36 and 199 wickets and Pollards’ batting average of 25.20 with the 18.75 average of opener Dwayne Smith who was included in the World Cup team to illustrate their case. The former West Indies leg-spinner said the spotlight must be put on the selectors who voted against Pollard and Bravo. Simmons and Lloyd were outvoted 3-2 in the selection meeting which included Courtney Walsh, Courtney Browne and Eldine Baptiste.

“This is the first time we have had a coach so honest and transparent. The question is why the three selectors who did not vote for them are not being called to account,” he said. “If a team does not perform, the three people usually suffering the most criticism are the captain, coach and Chairman of Selectors, and if they not being supported we must ask why.”