After India and West Indies players shook hands and brought the fourth and final Test at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port-of-Spain to a drawn conclusion, and the series 2-0 in favour of the visitors, the home team’s head coach Phil Simmons reflected on the performance of his players all through the series, the lack of a better connect between different levels of cricket in West Indies, the weight on Darren Bravo’s shoulders, the scoreline that would truly reflect his team’s showing in the series and more.
Excerpts from the press conference held on Monday (August 22).
Your thoughts on the series?
I think the series was a little bit too up and down. We played well across two-three hours sometimes, and the next two hours we were down. I think that, for me, was the major disappointment. We showed that we can do things but not consistently enough. We batted well in Jamaica, but we went and did the same things in the first and third Test. For that, it’s disappointing that we weren’t consistent enough.
Looking ahead to Pakistan, should there be an extended camp for the team?
I don’t know about the extended camp because you just played four Test matches… well, three and a quarter, back to back and we underestimated the power of rest after Test matches, but we also have two T20s. We also have a one-day squad and T20 squad for the first part of the Pakistan series. So from the point of view of being together, we’re trying to get the Test team to the UAE early enough, so we can have enough practice time before the first two-day game. And this is something that I keep trying to get when on tour. If we get two, sometimes three, practice games before the first Test then that would be ideal. Some places we can’t get it, but we have to keep trying to get that because we improve. On the other side, it’s a case of us trying not to slack off as players and coaches, and make sure that players continue to do what we’ve been doing over the last two weeks, with their technique and temperament.
What are your views on the scheduling of Tests and the lack of spectators?
I don’t think that’s anything to do with the players. I think that’s got to do with where we are. We are playing India, so you should expect more spectators at the ground. I think that’s above my pay grade, because I think that’s a lot to do with how we market our product and everything like that, that’s how we get spectators in.
Surprised that there was no play for four days?
Extremely surprised. As far as I know, in my years, Trinidad has never been a ground like that. I don’t know what is the position on the other side, but it was really bad and after two days of sun and when I saw it yesterday morning, I couldn’t believe how bad it was. I don’t know what the position is there and what caused that, but I’m surprised and never expected that here.
What’s causing the inconsistency in the team’s performances?
I think in some cases you have to adjust techniques. It’s something that we should be doing at a level below. The same thing with mentality because when we come up here it’s a lot harder to get runs and wickets. I think at our domestic level, it’s a lot easier, that patience and time at the crease, if we bat two sessions in a domestic game most of the guys playing here would have a hundred or more. But if you bat two sessions here, it might be 60 or 70. The patience at the domestic level is not tested as much up here.
Is there a connect between you and the coaches at the different domestic teams?
There’s a lot of things that I have asked for, it’s not come to fruition. I’ve asked for coaches to meet two, maybe three, times a year to discuss cricket. We need to make sure that whatever we do upstairs is going down to everybody. You and me might be two coaches and might coach differently, but we have to have the same objective. If we don’t have the same objective, we spin it up in muddles. I think that’s lacking. There’s quite a few things that needs to be fixed, but at the end of the day the quality of cricket downstairs is not good enough for the maturity of the players.
What do you believe could be some other measures to improve domestic cricketers?
We need to be closer as coaches and understand what we try and produce for the top level. Things like our pitches and practice facilities need to be better. A lot better. In order to produce players, not just fast bowlers as we’re lacking now, but batsmen, because the better the pitches the better the batsmen show themselves. Little things like that we need to put in place. The gap between that and our cricket needs to be filled, whether it can be done with an academy, which we don’t have right now, A-team cricket, which we have one a year… we should have two or three a year. Something needs to be done to fill that gap. We’re missing a few things.
Thoughts on Marlon Samuels?
His career still stands there. They (Chase, Dowrich) are pushing him which is nice because before when you have people pushing you from outside – you either get pushed out or you lift your game. So, I think it’s a case where you have youngsters pushing him now, and it’s good for the team. Same thing with Shannon and a few young fast bowlers coming out, Jason… everybody. You need that second team that’s up to the standard to push people so that they continue to produce. The great West Indies team had that, the great Australia team had that, so that’s what we need here.
What did you make of Darren Bravo’s performance?
We talk about Darren Bravo, and we talk about him a lot because we see his potential and where he’s supposed to be right now. But you look back at things and all the people around his age and how they’ve come through. The help that they’ve had in the team when they came in.
We talk about Virat… when Virat came in, look at the players around him. That’s where you get that little bit of experience, little bit of help from. Bravo’s had to turn up and be the senior player and I think sometimes, that affects people. No doubt about it, he’s working extremely hard on trying to get his game together and trying to score runs, which he did when he just came into the team.
Is 2-0 a fair reflection?
Interesting question… I would say yes. I think that we should have been 1-0, I don’t think we should have lost the game in St Lucia. For me, it should have been 1-0. At the beginning of the series when you look at the experience of the two teams, you would’ve taken it.