The president of the Barbados Cricket Association has called for the “immediate removal” of Phil Simmons as head coach of West Indies.
Conde’ Riley, who is also on the board of directors of Cricket West Indies (CWI), has described Simmons’ decision to attend a family funeral as “inconsiderate and reckless” and claimed it has “endangered the lives” of the rest of the touring party.
Simmons, who is based in the UK, was allowed to leave the West Indies training base to attend the funeral of his father-in-law at the end of last week. As a consequence, he was obliged to go into quarantine in the team hotel upon his return.
In an email to board members Riley wrote: “I just heard on the radio that our head coach Mr Phil Simmons attended a funeral recently and is now being quarantined as a result. If this is true I am calling for his immediate removal as head coach.
“I am being bombarded by concerned parents and members of the BCA. This behaviour is inconsiderate and reckless. It endangers the lives of those 25 young men in the UK and in fact the entire management team and cannot be tolerated.
“The English press will have a feast on his judgement and I suggest we act swiftly.”
Nine members of West Indies’ 14-man Test squad are from Barbados, as well as four of the squad’s 11 reserve players. Three further players – Shimron Hetmyer, Keemo Paul and Darren Bravo – opted out of selection prior to the series due to their concerns about the pandemic.
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A statement from CWI at the time confirmed that Simmons had gained permission to attend the funeral ahead of the tour.
“The entire process of his exit and re-entry to the bio-secure location was approved and managed by the medical teams of the CWI and the ECB and strictly followed protocols set up prior to the tour which addressed such scenarios,” the statement said.
“Following his return, Simmons has been in self-isolation away from other members of the squad, exactly as had always been planned. He has so far undergone two Covid-19 tests since Friday – both of which came back negative. He will have another test on Wednesday before he will re-join the squad as they prepare for the three-match #RaiseTheBat Series against England.”
Simmons’ movements have been barely noted in the UK press as of now. Joe Root, the England captain, has been given similar dispensation to leave the training bubble to attend the birth of his second child. He will miss the first Test as a consequence.
Riley’s email comes a week before West Indies begin the three-Test series in England with the first match scheduled from July 8 in Southampton. West Indies hold the Wisden Trophy after their 2-1 win at home last year, but have not won a Test series in England since 1988.
There is wider context behind this. In 2019 Ricky Skerritt ended Dave Cameron’s six-year reign as CWI president, winning the elections by an 8-4 margin with voting conducted through a secret ballot. However, the BCA was one of the boards to nominate Cameron. Cameron now also wants to contest for the ICC chairman’s position, which is up for grabs after incumbent Shashank Manohar recently said he would not be standing for another term. Although the CWI is yet to take a formal stance on whether to support Cameron’s nomination, on Tuesday Riley told the Mason and Guest Cricket Show, hosted on Starcom Network, a Barbados-based radio station, that he would “certainly” support the Jamaican.
The relationship between Cameron and Skerritt’s administration has been tense, especially of late. Last month, Cameron threatened legal action against the board unless they handed over a copy to him of an audit which had been critical of Cameron’s time in office.
Simmons was also sacked as head coach by the board during Cameron’s time as president, and was reappointed to the same post by Skerritt. The coach subsequently won a legal case for unfair dismissal against CWI and received a significant payout.
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