Simmons gets WICB backing after exiting bio-secure bubble to attend funeral


Simmons was granted compassionate leave to attend the funeral of his father-in-law.

Simmons was granted compassionate leave to attend the funeral of his father-in-law. © Getty

Cricket West Indies President Ricky Skerritt has come to the defence of incumbent head coach Phil Simmons, terming him the ‘best man’ for the job. The public backing of Simmons comes after he had exited the bio-secure bubble that he and the West Indies team are in currently, in Manchester, in order to attend the funeral of his father-in-law last week. Simmons has remained in isolation since his return and has twice tested negative for COVID-19.

Though the funeral was held in the same country, Simmons’s move earned backlash and calls for a sacking. Skerritt though was quick to rubbish those claims and revealed that Simmons had sought compassionate leave and had been granted so by the board.

“I want to assure West Indies cricket fans that Phil Simmons still has the full backing of Cricket West Indies no matter what has been said,” Skerritt said. “He went through a very rigorous recruitment process nine months ago and was the best man we could have found for the job. He’s still the best man. I’m confident the people of the Caribbean have already thrown their support behind Phil and will continue to do so.”

Interestingly, Simmons’s return as head coach of West Indies last October coincided with the start of Skerritt’s tenure at the helm of CWI. Previously in 2016, Simmons had been controversially sacked just six months after his team won the T20 World Cup, with the board citing “differences in cultural and strategic approach.” Skerritt termed the decision to bring back Simmons as a move that was ‘righting a past wrong’ and has backed him since.

“Phil is the right man at the right time. We’re so blessed to have Phil back with us and to have Jimmy Adams as his boss. I don’t think I need to worry at all with those two guys leading the cricket.

“It is a well-established policy for CWI players and officials while on tour to be given permission for compassionate leave as and when needed. The matter of coach Simmons’ exiting and returning to Old Trafford should never have been controversial in any way.”

Simmons reckoned what he did was ‘the right thing to do for family’ and that there was no question of not attending the funeral. “There was no question of me not going to the funeral,” Simmons said. “It is a very, very hard time for us. My wife, my daughters and my son needed that support. This has not been an easy time for my family. My wife was very close to her father and his passing has hurt us. All the guys [in the West Indies touring party] have been very close to me. It won’t disrupt us. It will just make us a little stronger going into the Test series.

“Family is a huge thing or me. It’s the same thing we’re trying to build here and everyone is supporting everyone. If someone wants to try and use that against me, all well and good. If that is to break up the camp and change our focus, that hasn’t worked. I had to do what is right for my family, just as I will do what is right for CWI for the rest of the series.”

The much-awaited resumption of international cricket starts with the first Test between England and West Indies in Southampton from July 8.

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