“Still the best man to coach West Indies,” says Ricky Skerritt

By Brandon Corlette

Storms have erupted and ‘hidden truths’ have been revealed. West Indies Head Coach Phil Simmons is hurting, having recently lost his father-in-law. Simmons, who had been in the bio-secure location with the West Indies Test team in Manchester, attended his father-in-law’s funeral, which was held in the UK. He was granted permission by Cricket West Indies (CWI), and upon his return, he remains in isolation.

CWI President Ricky Skerritt

President of the Barbados Cricket Association, Conde Riley, a member of the Board of Directors of Cricket West Indies (CWI) and one who has shown support for the previous Dave Cameron administration, in a letter, described Simmons’s decision to attend the funeral as “inconsiderate” and “reckless”, and has made claims that Simmons, by his action, had endangered the lives of the rest of the touring party.
This ‘Riley incident’ has resulted in noises being made about sacking Simmons as Head Coach.
Appearing in a virtual press conference on Wednesday, July 1, with journalists from across the globe, CWI President Ricky Skerrit has reiterated his firm conviction that Simmons is the best man to coach the West Indies. Skerritt also made it evident that CWI would continue to back Simmons.
No matter what have been said, Simmons still has the full backing of the CWI. No matter what has been said, Phil’s job has not been threatened by that said letter. Simmons went through a vigorous recruitment process, and was the best man we have found for the job; he is still the best man in this touring squad, Skerritt explained.
“I am confident that the Caribbean (have) already thrown their support behind him and captain Holder, who will give excellent account of themselves in the upcoming Test series,” Skerritt predicted.
Based on feedback Skerritt has received from Simmons, the touring party is in England for the sole purpose of defending the Wisden Trophy. “All players are moving forward every day with some level of improvement, and this should be a competitive and entertaining series for all of us,” Simmons has declared.
Skerrit noted that Simmons had sought permission to leave the team’s base. He said the entire process of Simmons leaving the touring party was approved and managed by CWI medical teams and the England Cricket Board.
Skerritt also declared that, while on tour, players, coaches or other personnel are given permission for compassionate leave as and when needed. “This matter should not have been controversial in any way,” Skerritt posited.
Skerritt noted that Riley’s correspondence was a shock missive. He also noted that his only response to that correspondence is that Riley should withdraw the letter, which has not yet been officially withdrawn.
Describing the Riley correspondence as “a burst of emotion which was unnecessary and somewhat hasty”, Skerritt has said he has put the correspondence aside, and cricket is his sole focus.

Simmons responds
Following Skerritt’s remarks, Simmons shared his sentiments on the situation, noting that this has not disrupted any plan for the West Indies team.
“This has not been an easy time for me and my family, (but) this will make us a little bit stronger to go into this Test series,” he has said. “For me and my family, there was no question of me not going to the funeral, because this is a very hard time for my family, and my son needed my support.
“Family is a huge thing for me, and that is what we are building here. It’s a family, and everyone has supported each other, and that is noted among the staff.”
The Trinidadian Simmons is hurting. He noted that if this situation was meant to be used against him or to break up the West Indies camp, the strategy has not worked.
“We are still focused on the series. As for now, I have put that behind me. This is an occasion where I had to do what is right for my family, and…I would do what is right for CWI,” Simmons highlighted.