‘Can’t beg people to play for West Indies’ — Phil Simmons

With a number of their stalwarts having chosen to play in Global T20 leagues over international cricket, West Indies head coach Phil Simmons has come up with strong words with the T20 World Cup 2022 not far away.
Andre Russell and Sunil Narine?width=963&height=541&resizemode=4
Andre Russell hasn’t played for West Indies since the T20 WC 2021.

The T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia is less than two months away, and the West Indies, the only team to lift two titles, is far from being in a position to narrow down their best squad for the marquee event, with a number of players being unavailable for selection.

Andre Russell hasn’t played an international game since the team’s disappointing exit in last year’s edition in the UAE, while Sunil Narine’s last T20I dates back to 2019. Sheldon Cottrell, Fabian Allen and Roston Chase have been sidelined with injuries, while Evin Lewis and Oshane Thomas didn’t appear for fitness tests ahead of the team’s three-match T20I series against New Zealand at home, beginning Thursday, August 11.

Russell and Narine are currently playing in The Hundred 2022 in England, and there’s no clarity as yet on the pair’s return to the international fold.

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons had strong words over the situation.

"It hurts. There's no other way to put it. But what can you do? I don't think that I should be begging people to play for their countries. I think if you want to represent the West Indies, you will make yourself available," said Simmons.

"Life has changed, in that people have the opportunities to go different places and if they choose that over West Indies, that's just how it is."

Chief selector Desmond Haynes reiterated that the team could only be picked from an available set of players, while adding that the upcoming Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2022 will also contribute in team selection for the World Cup.

"From what I have gathered, I think he is unavailable because he hasn't made himself available," Haynes said of Russell.

"I will love everyone to play for the West Indies. I would love to make sure that all the guys make themselves available to play. But you must realise that the guys have options now, and if guys are choosing other franchises in front of the West Indies, then we have to pick from who is available to us."

"If there is a competition that is run by the West Indies (and) somebody is playing well, I think his name should really come up for selection," Haynes said about considering CPL performances for T20 World Cup selection. "That performance is very important to us, and we didn't say that we have picked the World Cup team yet, so all the games that are going to be played leading up to the World Cup, we must take into consideration."

West Indies recently went down to India 0-3 and 1-4 in the ODIs and T20Is respectively, with their margins of defeat in three of the four T20Is lost batting second - 68, 59 and 88 runs respectively - highlights batting struggles.

The head coach added that the upcoming New Zealand series could see some tinkering with the batting positions, majorly that of skipper Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer, depending on the game situation.

"So far we have been experimenting; as we get to the end of these games, we're going to have a better idea how we want them to be put in the order and how we want them to go in," Simmons said. "And we tend to judge it by overs and the situation. So in each game it could be different. Shimron could bat higher and Pooran could bat lower. It just depends on the game, the situation in the game."