PM: Coach’s comments disturbing
ST GEORGE’S – Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell has labelled as “disturbing” claims by West Indies head coach Phil Simmons of outside interference in the selection of the One-Day International squad for Sri Lanka.
Mitchell, the Chairman of CARICOM’s subcommittee on cricket governance, said Sunday any selection panel needed to be “free of interference, fear, or favour”, and joined with Simmons in condemning “any act that undermined his leadership and the discretion of the Board of Selectors to field the best team”.
“It is my view that West Indies cricket is fortunate to have a leadership team that includes head coach Phil Simmons, captain Jason Holder and chairman of selectors Clive Lloyd,” Mitchell said in a statement.
“The team is now at an important crossroads, and it will require wisdom and good leadership to chart and follow the right path. It will therefore take the skill, motivation and priorities of the men who lead and the players who follow, to restore the team to world prominence.”
He continued: “To that end, the leadership unit must receive the full and unequivocal support and cooperation of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), and the backing of an independent selection panel, that is free of interference, fear, or favour.
“The head coach’s comments about the selection of the West Indies one-day team to tour Sri Lanka are highly disturbing.”
Speaking to media in Barbados on Friday, Simmons lashed out at what he termed “too much interference from outside”, as he explained the continued absence of Trinidadian all-rounders Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard from the ODI side.
Simmons said both he and chief selector Clive Lloyd had been in favour of the players’ re-inclusion, but the five-member selection panel had voted 3-2 against.
Mitchell said it was important the selection process ensured that West Indies always had their best sides available.
“Together with the head coach, he [Lloyd] urged selectors to bury their hatchets and trade the self-defeating, mean-spirited and losing culture of exclusion for a cooperative and winning culture of inclusion and unity. The West Indies public expects and deserves nothing less,” the Grenadian leader said.
“I fully endorse the sentiments and position taken by the chairman of selectors and the head coach, and I join with Simmons in condemning any act that undermined his leadership and the discretion of the board of selectors to field the best team.”
Mitchell said he believed the Trinidadian had the ability to transform the fortunes of the Windies team once given adequate support, and urged leadership to avoid the dangers of “polarisation, anger, hatred, resentment, exclusion and adversarial attitudes”.
“I believe that if Simmons is given the right tools to do his job, the liberty to make critical cricket decisions, the autonomy to create learning environments in which young players can grow and prosper, and the freedom to field the best teams, West Indies cricket will flourish,” Mitchell said. (CMC)