Phil Simmons: We can't beg people to play for West Indies

Two months away from the T20 World Cup, the West Indies management have no clarity on the availability of key players

Andre Russell hasn’t made himself available for selection. The status of Sunil Narine’s availability is a bit of a mystery. Evin Lewis and Oshane Thomas have not appeared for their fitness tests. Sheldon Cottrell and Roston Chase are out with injuries while Fabian Allen has pulled out for personal reasons. As a result, with the men’s T20 World Cup about two months months away, West Indies are far from identifying their best squad, and the 4-1 series defeat to India at home recently hasn’t helped.

The three-T20I series against New Zealand, starting later today, gives the team management one last chance to see the players in an international setting – the CPL will follow – and lead selector Desmond Haynes and chief coach Phil Simmons expressed their disappointment at the state of affairs ahead of the series.

Russell, for example, has not played for West Indies since the 2021 T20 World Cup. He’s playing the Hundred at the moment – along with Narine – and missed the home series against India and now against New Zealand. A couple of days ago, Russell was part of the list of overseas players unveiled by the UAE’s International League T20, which begins in January next year.

“From what I have gathered, I think he is unavailable because he hasn’t made himself available,” Haynes said of the Russell situation.

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Lewis failed to complete a fitness test that had been arranged for him by the CWI during his IPL stint with Lucknow Super Giants earlier this year, according to Haynes.

“I will love everyone to play for West Indies. I would love to make sure that all the guys make themselves available to play,” Haynes said. “But you must realise that the guys have options now, and if guys are choosing other franchises in front of West Indies, then we have to pick from who is available to us.”

Simmons’ comments were stronger: “It hurts. There’s no other way to put it. But what can you do? I don’t think that I should be begging people to play for their countries. I think if you want to represent West Indies, you will make yourself available.”

“Life has changed, in that people have the opportunities to go different places and if they choose that over West Indies, that’s just how it is.”

“If there is a competition that is run by the West Indies (and) somebody is playing well, I think his name should really come up for selection. That performance is very important to us”

Desmond Haynes, on selectors looking at CPL performances

The CPL, which runs from September 1 to October 1, will come at a good time vis-à-vis West Indies’ selection for the T20 World Cup. The West Indies will have to play the first round of games, which starts on October 16, to qualify for the Super 12 round of the T20 World Cup.

“If there is a competition that is run by the West Indies (and) somebody is playing well, I think his name should really come up for selection,” Haynes said about considering CPL performances for World Cup selection. “That performance is very important to us, and we didn’t say that we have picked the World Cup team yet, so all the games that are going to be played leading up to the World Cup, we must take into consideration.”

In the three T20Is against New Zealand, West Indies could tinker with the positions of their two main batters in the middle order, Nicholas Pooran, the captain, and Shimron Hetmyer.

“So far we have been experimenting; as we get to the end of these games, we’re going to have a better idea how we want them to be put in the order and how we want them to go in,” Simmons said. “And we tend to judge it by overs and the situation. So in each game it could be different. Shimron could bat higher and Pooran could bat lower. It just depends on the game, the situation in the game.”