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Phil Simmons Happy With Talent In West Indies

Phil Simmons in action during the net session at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.
Phil Simmons in action during the net session at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.
©REUTERS / Action Images

Former West Indies all-rounder Phil Simmons who recently took over as the coach of the national team expressed his happiness at the pool of talent available in the Caribbean.

While talent has never been an issue in West Indies, Simmons lamented at the lack of proper grooming for the young players.

“That’s never been a problem.

“What we do between 18-19 and 24-25 is what’s been happening.”

Stressing on the need for proper guidance for the younger players, Simmons feels that smooth grooming is essential right from the grassroots level.

Simmons feels that youngsters in West Indies needed to be given targets at each age in order to push towards being a world-class cricketer.

Dwelling further on the concept, the 51-year-old explained the target theory put in place in the West Indies to develop players.

“I think that’s part of the scenario here.

“It’s a case where guys have got to be given a benchmark every time.

“So, if I am 19 and I can do a, b and c, then by the time I am 22, I must be able to do d, e and f to b an international cricketer to be among the best in the world.”

Always a hard task-master, Simmons believes that it’s important for players to have a sense of discipline to cultivate their skills.

Although talent is a vital aspect of a cricketer’s profile, Simmons stressed on the need to have discipline to maximize their potential.

“It’s a lot about discipline because in everything you do, discipline comes through.

“No matter whether you bat, bowl, field or anything, discipline is needed.”

The West Indies squad for the first Test against England starting on Monday featured two uncapped players in wicket-keeper batsman Shai Hope and pacer Carlos Brathwaite.

When asked about the fresh bloods in the team, Simmons seemed visibly impressed with both the newcomers.

The 21-year-old Hope showed great temperament and resilience during his double-hundred for Barbados in domestic cricket last month which was followed by another double-century during the practice game.

“I think young Hope is technically sound and to score a double-century in any form of the game you’ve got to bat for a long period of time.

“He showed that in the practice match that he can bat for a longer period of time.

“That’s a big thing with young cricketers now.

“Some of them just want to go out and play their shots from the start.”

The 26-year-old pacer Brathwaite who has had a strong first-class season also won laurels from the West Indies coach who singled out the former’s big-match temperament as the biggest quality.

“Young Brathwaite just bowled like a Test bowler, an international bowler in the practice match we had.

“So these are good things to see.”

Simmons admitted enjoying the atmosphere in the dressing room with former team-mates Curtley Ambrose (Bowling coach) and Richie Richardson (Manager).

The new West Indies coach feels that the presence of his former teammates in the team-management gives him the freedom to perform his responsibilities without pressure.

“It’s fun to have them in the dressing room.

“Haven’t seen much of Richie as he has been busy in managerial work.

“It’s good to have them there because they know the way I played my game and the way I’d things to happen in the dressing room.”

When questioned about his advice to youngsters as a coach, Simmons was sharp and to the point with his methodology of work.

“The philosophy for me is that you practice hard and play easy.

“We have to be doing things hardly in practice that will make it easier for us on the field.”

Simmons took over as the West Indies coach last month after an eight-year stint with the Ireland team that made remarkable progress under his coaching.

© Cricket World 2015