What West Indies need: 'Consistency and knowing how to play situations,' says Simmons

Nicholas Pooran walks back after being dismiised by Kuldeep Yadav
August 08, 2022

West Indies are yet to figure out their team combination and preferred style of play for the upcoming T20 World Cup, their head coach Phil Simmons has admitted.

Whether T20 stalwarts Chris Gayle, Andre Russell and Sunil Narine will be available for that tournament or not is still unclear, while Evin Lewis, Fabian Allen and Sheldon Cottrell have all been left out of recent squads because of different reasons. Keemo Paul and Romario Shepherd were also unavailable for some games in the white-ball series against India because of injury.

West Indies' team management, perhaps, missed a trick by not pairing up Akeal Hosein, the left-arm fingerspinner, with Hayden Walsh Jr, the legspinner, in the T20Is against India. In contrast, India played three spinners in the first T20I in Tarouba, and in the final game in Lauderhill, to take advantage of the slow, two-paced tracks. Off-spin-bowling allrounder Roston Chase, who was also West Indies' anchor in the 2021 T20 World Cup in the UAE, has since dropped down the pecking order. And until the home series against India, Shimron Hetmyer was out of the squad on fitness grounds.

The three-match T20I series against New Zealand, which begins with the first match in Kingston on August 11, will be West Indies' last before they announce their squad for the T20 World Cup, for which they need to qualify by competing against Zimbabwe, Scotland and Ireland in Group B in the first round.

"It's difficult," Simmons said after West Indies suffered an 88-run drubbing in the final T20I against India. "But I think we have three more matches [against New Zealand]. After that we will sit down and make decisions as to who fits into the way we want to play.

"I think the three matches will be important for a lot of players as well as some players who will be rested. But, in general, after that we will have to make a decision."

West Indies' batting was particularly poor in Florida, where they were dismissed for 132 and 100 in the two T20Is. Simmons called for greater game awareness and application from his batters. I think the major lesson is that we gave away our wickets a little bit too cheaply," he said. "And if we continue to bat [deep], we will be up there with the run rate, but we keep losing too many wickets and we've got to learn from this series.

"The main thing is we need to bat in a format. We need to be able to bat for the six overs [of the powerplay] and know how we are batting in that. We need to stop losing wickets and once we stop losing wickets, we're going to make big scores. We have the players - Hetty [Hetmyer] showed he is back to form, we have Rovman [Powell], we have [Nicholas Pooran], who has done a little bit as we went on in the series, but nobody has been consistent throughout the series. So, I think that is what we need now - consistency and understanding the situation of the game and knowing how we play that."

There are concerns for West Indies on the bowling front too and against top teams like India, they need to fire with both bat and ball, Simmons stressed.

"It's always going to be difficult playing against India. It's the best T20 team in the world - man for man," Simmons said. "But we showed in glimpses that we are capable of competing - sometimes with the ball and sometimes with the bat. Probably, we never put everything together. That's the lesson we are going to take from this. We have to put everything together on the day to beat the top teams."

After taking 6 for 17 in St Kitts - the best figures by a West Indies bowler in T20Is - left-arm seamer Obed McCoy went in the other direction, leaking 66 runs in the first T20I in Florida, the fourth of the series - the most runs conceded by a West Indies bowler in a men's T20I. Simmons, however, backed McCoy to bounce back against New Zealand.

"We all know that he has excellent skills," Simmons said. "But there's a lot of bowlers around the world who have excellent skills and go for runs on one day and bowl well the next day. It's how he comes back from it. He's shown that he can bowl; so, he will come back from it."

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