Anatomy of a back-stabbing: Live Wire looks at WICB’s treatment of Simmons

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If Phil Simmons didn’t care whether West Indies won or lost cricket matches, he would still be in a job today. But he did. So he isn’t.

Photo: Suspended West Indies cricket team coach Phil Simmons. (Copyright Phillip Spooner/WICB Media)
Photo: Suspended West Indies cricket team coach Phil Simmons.
(Copyright Phillip Spooner/WICB Media)

From the moment Simmons chose to retain the notion that, as West Indies cricket coach, he deserved the best players available to win matches, he was on a collision course with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB). And there was only ever going to be one winner there.

Not literally of course. There are no winners in Caribbean cricket anymore, just losers. Why else would the regional cricket boards re-elect Dave Cameron as president in March?

In Cameron’s first term he oversaw the total breakdown of trust between cricketers and administrators, the first abandonment of a Test series outside of war or natural disaster—that’s if one doesn’t consider Cameron himself to be a natural disaster—and put the WICB on the verge of bankruptcy by exposing regional cricket to a US$42 million lawsuit from the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India).

Re-electing Cameron is like west African governments finding the cure for Ebola but opting to give the disease another two years, just to see what happens.

KFC Munch Pack

And that brings us to Simmons: the eager-beaver Trinidadian who represented West Indies back when the maroon cap was cricket’s equivalent to a Barcelona first team jersey.

Photo: West Indies cricket coach Phil Simmons (right) talks to his former Test captain Denesh Ramdin. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: West Indies cricket coach Phil Simmons (right) talks to his former Test captain Denesh Ramdin.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

Part of Simmons probably wanted to play a role in the restoration of the West Indian game. The other half probably knew he could only get so far as the Ireland coach and wondered what he could accomplish with players like Kraigg Braithwaite, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and Sunil Narine at his disposal.

Due diligence works both ways though. And Simmons ought to have known that much of West Indies’ problems exist above its coach’s pay grade.

Maybe Simmons hoped to coax Cameron and company into the light by tantalising the WICB board with the prospect of a return to winning ways.

If so, Simmons either overestimated his skills as a salesman. Or he underestimated the twisted bitterness that Cameron, CEO Michael Muirhead and Director of Cricket Richard Pybus nurse towards young West Indian cricketers.

Bravo and the West Indies team in India asked only that Cameron retain their existing Memorandum of Understanding until he could speak to his key employees face to face.

Photo: West Indies Players Association (WIPA) president Wavell Hinds (right) and West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Dave Cameron shake hands over the players'  controversial CBA/MOU in September 2014. (Courtesy WIPA)
Photo: West Indies Players Association (WIPA) president Wavell Hinds (right) and West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Dave Cameron shake hands over the players’ controversial CBA/MOU in September 2014.
(Courtesy WIPA)

The WICB responded with indignation not seen since the Afrikaner National Party stubbornly tried to preserve apartheid.

They preferred to let West Indies cricket go bust than sit across the table from the players whose exploits on the field pay their salaries.

And now Simmons wants to bring those boys back just because he thinks it would help West Indies win matches? Seriously?!

Pybus is probably picking a spot between T20 captain Darren Sammy’s shoulder blades as we speak. It would complete the cull, as he has already seen off the Test and ODI captains, Denesh Ramdin and Bravo respectively.

Let us not play dumb—and I’m looking at you here selector Courtney Walsh.

The trio at the WICB’s helm all accepted their respective posts between 2012 and 2013. At the time, West Indies was the defending T20 World Cup champion and ranked seventh in the world in Tests and One Day Internationals and second in T20.

Photo: West Indies players celebrate their World T20 success in 2012. (Courtesy
Photo: West Indies players celebrate their World T20 success in 2012.

And how have Cameron, Muirhead and Pybus done?

Well, the West Indies team is now eighth in the Test rankings, ninth in ODIs and fifth in T20. And the region has not lifted a trophy or won a single Test against a higher-ranked nation during that period.

Not until Simmons got here anyway.

When West Indies beat England by five wickets at Bridgetown in May, it was the first time the regional team had beaten anyone higher up the Test rankings since a win over Pakistan at Georgetown in April 2011.

Perhaps Mr Live Wire should put that another way.

The last time the West Indies punched above its weight in a Test match: Andy Carroll was at Liverpool, Osama Bin Laden was alive and Jack Warner was still a FIFA vice-president.

And yet Pybus, who claimed in a 2014 report that his mission was to make West Indies the number one cricket team in the world, did not think that their most successful coach in five years, Simmons, and team captain Jason Holder might be better placed to decide which players offer the best chance for success in Sri Lanka.

Photo: Dwayne Bravo (right) and Kieron Pollard cross for a run during active duty for the West Indies Cricket Tea,. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: Dwayne Bravo (right) and Kieron Pollard cross for a run during active duty for the West Indies Cricket Tea,.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

Instead, Simmons was suspended via email and sent to bed like Oliver Twist.

“The chairman didn’t even have the balls to see me personally, he got one of his henchmen to do it for him… It was a political decision… But what goes around, comes around and he was sacked as chairman shortly afterward!”

That was not Simmons. It was an interview Pybus gave to Border cricket after he was sacked by the Pakistan Cricket Board.

“What goes around, comes around…”

One can only hope.

There is irony everywhere. Eldine Baptiste will replace Simmons as coach for the Sri Lanka series.

Baptiste was sacked by Kenya after falling out with his senior players and losing all six matches at the 2011 World Cup, including a five wicket defeat to Canada. He applied for the West Indies coaching job, earlier this year, but could not compete with Simmons’ CV.

Photo: Former Kenya coach and current West Indies selector and caretaker coach, Eldine Baptiste.
Photo: Former Kenya coach and current West Indies selector and caretaker coach, Eldine Baptiste.

So, the WICB made Baptiste a selector instead and, after ensuring his employers got their way by helping outvote Simmons and chairman of the selectors, Clive Lloyd, he gets to be coach after all—albeit as a caretaker for now.

What company in the world would give one person the job of reshaping its fortunes and then give a lesser candidate the chance to undermine him by withholding his most valuable tools?

That was just to see if you were still awake. Of course the WICB would do just that.

It makes perfect sense if you don’t think about it. And they probably don’t.

Hands up if you think the West Indies players are dying to hear what pearls of wisdom Baptiste has to offer…

Baptiste still needed two other selectors to vote against Lloyd and Simmons and to disregard team captain Jason Holder’s plea to allow Pollard and Bravo to contribute once more to the game they love.

And one of those selectors was Walsh.

Photo: Former legendary West Indies bowler Courtney Walsh.
Photo: Former legendary West Indies bowler Courtney Walsh.

No, it was not enough that Cameron, Muirhead and Pybus are crushing the souls of our young cricket stars. They are also smashing the backbones of our old cricket icons.

The entire West Indies team should get to London by Thursday from where they will head for Sri Lanka.

Or maybe some players will break free from camp, sneak on to a train, avoid Hungary and get to German soil.

Granted, it is impossible to top Syria president Bashar al-Assad’s inhumanity to his own people.

But who in Germany’s Immigration Department could not melt when he hears what Cameron did to Walsh.

And Simmons?

Photo: Former West Indies cricketers Dwayne Bravo (right) and Kieron Pollard. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: Former West Indies cricketers Dwayne Bravo (right) and Kieron Pollard.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

His attempts to sell Cameron’s cartel on winning matches by picking players they don’t like, were like peddling vegan pies at KFC.

Not surprisingly, they did not bite.

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About Mr. Live Wire

Mr. Live Wire
Mr. Live Wire is an avid news reader who translates media reports for persons who can handle the truth. And satire. Unlike Jack Nicholson, he rarely yells.

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  1. This no surprise. Wicb boards,especially boards headed by Jamaicans tend to be the most autocratic, disrespectful and insecure administrations. Pat Rousseau did the same thing to Brian Lara and Malcolm Marshall in 1999 vs Australia. The same thing with the world cup in the West Indies. Besides that, wicb boards have always wanted yes men as skippers. Desmond Haynes was to be captain after Viv retired, not only because of seniority but because viv himself was grooming him to be captain.Yet when the ‘Master Blaster retired, Ritchie Richardson was skipper. WE ENT RECOVER FROM THAT YET. As history shows, whatever cracks, or crevices there were were covered for three and a half years until Australia reached our shores in April/May of 1995 and we lost ad it would have been much worse than 2-1 if it wasn’t for the pitch(if that is what it could be called) at QPO. Also, Dave Cameron was on the marketing board during the time when the Patterson report was published and was a vocal critic of its implementation.

    • Dopey, there’s probably some merit in what you say but it’s all so awfully NEGATIVE. Criticism is most useful, sir, when it seeks to be constructive.
      And just for the record, the West Indies have not recovered politically either from Eric Williams’ fancy one=from-ten-leaves-nought maths. Is that what you really want for the cricket?

  2. Warning: Undefined variable $userid in /www/wired868_759/public/wp-content/plugins/user-photo/user-photo.php on line 114

    A bunch of self serving, pompous, incompetent fools.

  3. Some of the comments here are empty, they are childish, they are absurd, they are frivolous and vacuous. I am not staying here to continue this foolish debate. I am leaving now. I am getting out of here. Lol

  4. The IPL and countries where cricket has re-captured record audiences, all want Bravo, Pollard, Narine, Gayle and Russell because they are winners and crowd favourites; our selectors consider them hindrances. These players should be the first five to be selected on any WI Team if we truly want to “rise” again. Their popularity obviously irks the selectors. These five have gone their way and are laughing all the way to fame and fortune. Kudos to them – they are the only players who bring glory and recognition to the West Indies but can’t even “make our pwn team”.

  5. I am totally satisfied that the West Indies cricket board hates cricket but loves money bad . That board is to disrespectful to players and coaches once they remain there West Indies cricket will never rise again.

  6. WICB continues to be such a disappointment and failure I often wonder if their mission is to destroy

  7. Back to the colonial days when a white foreigner calling the shots for WI cricket

  8. DEM wicb PPL doh kno wen deh ‘ve ar gud ting an too bias ole’fashion tinkin car handle de truth,, seen i

  9. What gives the board to play with the lives of our players. Bravo and Pollard are two of the most gifted cricketers in the world who attract the biggest following in the the most lucrative fan base in cricket, ‘India’ and yet we who are financially bankrupt continue to exclude them for egotistical reasons Mr. Cameron it is time for you to step down and allow someone who can put aside ego be the President, all u r is ‘ President’ of ur appointed henchmen .This reeks of a Fifa styled feifdom. U Sir are no longer relevant.

  10. I am disgusted with Cameron and the Board and very disappointed in Walsh. Kudos to Lloyd, Gayle and Simmons for standing up for West Indies cricket. It seems as though Cameron and his stooges are bent on keeping WI cricket in the doldrums. Maybe it’s more profitable for them not to present the best team

  11. This certainly is a “wow” moment

  12. Lasana but why would a head coach not be able to select the players he thinks/knows/has confidence in on his squad. Football coaches do it, basketball coaches, volleyball coaches etc. Why does Phil Simmons have to play with the hand he is dealt?

    • That is one of the things about cricket that makes me think it is stuck in the dark ages.
      Football used to have a selection committee. That was abolished back in the 1960s or early 1970s.
      They should have a scouting network in place. But the ultimate decision should be the coach’s. It is his neck on the line. Courtney Walsh won’t get sacked if West Indies are crap in Sri Lanka. But Simmons could have lost his job.

    • Exactly, Stephen Hart would lose his job if the Soca Warriors don’t perform. I can’t understand why cricket is this way. Makes no sense. Let the coach pick his squad and lose his neck if he pick a bad hand. No wonder Desmond Haynes left (or pushed out) when IMO he still had a lot more to offer. And Lara and Sarwan and… I wonder what Ken Gordon thinks?

    • So imagine making Terry Fenwick a selector for Stephen Hart’s team when Fenwick wants the job himself.
      Not trying to suggest anything about Fenwick here. Just to point out how ludicrous that situation is.

    • The state West Indies cricket is in only a masochist would want that job.

  13. I’ve seen it happen in local football before. After a while, people get so frustrated with Jack Warner’s antics at the helm that they start viewing the team as Warner FC. And then attendances drop from about 18,000 to about 4,000.
    It is already happening in cricket. And it is a long road back from there.

  14. In Simmons case this is hitting close to home too. His nephew refuse to play for West Indies

  15. Well, they went after Chris Gayle too. And the Jamaican PM immediately convened a Caricom meeting to deal with it.
    The “sport loving” T&T governments are always much less likely to stand up for their athletes.

  16. Let us take a look at the composition of the West Indies board, what influence can we say we have when our representative sits among those who seek, at all cost to re elect someone like Dave Cameron. The man has proven himself to be a dictator in the Bravo incident, yet he is back as President, so the problem with the WI Board is DEEP ROOTED, so the entire Board needs to be replaced, not forgetting his WIPA President sidekick, he also has to go. Their status and reputation is equal to that of FIFA….CORRUPT….now we have another case of interference by those who have no authority to dictate to the selection committee who gets selected.OUR CRICKET IS DEAD, THE KILLER??? …THE BOARD.

  17. if TT pulls out there is no west indies… Bassrath is continuing to destroy our players, he is part of the problem

  18. plenty snakes in that nest… can’t be trusted.. trinis are being targeted

  19. But I think we’re far away from that scenario tho…i dont think there’s anyone ready to bite that bullet.

  20. Yea, but there is room for creativity there..once they start winning it opens options.

  21. Exactly Richard Zen O’Brien the TTCB would have to become the highest bidder to ensure they stay and play for TnT

  22. Nicole I think given a comparative and respectable contract they would choose to represent country. Plus the international T20 schedule doesn’t always clash with the IPL. But what you are saying is a cause for concern, however the WICB isn’t offering me much hope.

  23. The problem with that Richard Zen O’Brien is that our world beaters can be sold to the highest bidder.

  24. Time for Trinidad to go out on its own, Forget West Indies Cricket.

    • This is exactly what the rest of the Cricketing world (India dominated ICC) wants. None of the West Indian Islands can make it alone on any basis in International Cricket. The decline of W.I Cricket was never an accident nor entirely the bumbling of WICB. It was a well thought out plan by devious minds at the International Administrative level, to ensure that these little Caribbean Islands never again dominate at International Level. The first salvo was the closing of the doors to English County and League Cricket for budding West Indian talent, where all our great players of the past honed their skills, acquired a disciplined approach totally absent in our Cricket and enabled them to quickly grasp all the attributes of true professionalism. As this plan began to take shape less and less international playing time a key area of any sportsman’s development, was denied our young players. In the meantime the WICB ran true to form and did nothing of substance to replace the English Finishing School for our young talent. Of course the formulators of the plot had already done their homework on the WICB and kept tightening the screws to the point that less and less money went into its coffers. What we have been witnessing over recent years, is a fight back of sorts led by WIPA when Ramnarine was at its helm, the brave action of the players in India and now Phil Simmons’s stance. In this regard all those who have risked taking a stand are in desperate need of our support and most of all our assistance, for it is going to be a fight to the finish, as the likes of Cameron and those before him, as well those aspiring to the status quo, are not going to have a sudden attack of CONSCIENCE and do the right thing. Inevitably the OLD ORDER will be swept away by the NEW ORDER.

  25. This is a blatant attack on trinidadians they want us to kiss asses but no way

  26. We should seriously entertain the conversation about going it alone. The WICB accounts to no one so i can’t see how West Indies cricket could survive. We have produced world beaters, let’s develop more of them.

  27. The WICB seems intent on mashing up WIndies cricket, smh

  28. Wavel Hinds is the biggest sellout. As president of WIPA he has destroyed all credibility that the institution had. After compromising the integrity of WIPA with dave cameron they both look like che-che man

  29. Simmons behave like a likkle boy throwing a temper tantrum.. “I didnt get my country men on the team, so I will babble bullshit like a baby.
    How can he prove that Walsh Browne and Baptiste were influenced by anyone but their own conscience?
    Also clearly the author of this unbalanced diatribe knows nothing about ANATOMY

  30. After seeing regional boards reelect Dave Cameron is anybody truly surprised by this?

  31. Well, after the India debacle I can hazzard a good guess as to who the outside influence are

  32. Daiz not just backstabbing nuh Lasana, daiz stabbing while pelting dog jook and singing Rally.

  33. Seems like the credibility of the WICB and Cameron can get no worse. I wonder if we have arrived at the juncture where Trinidad and Tobago should evaluate going it alone on the international cricket stage. If not now, then when??

  34. One word for WI cricket,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,(Shambles) Which has been going on for a number of years now.

  35. I want dem gone I fed up of this issues continually happening, I know you got to have both sides of the story but everyone cannot be worn can they

  36. Need to send in President Obama and Pope Francis to fix the WICB.

  37. “There are no winners in West Indian cricket anymore; just losers.” The saddest, truest words ever spoken.

  38. I know reelecting Cameron would be a disaster. He has no love of the game and had absolutely no qualms of destroying the game.

  39. Simmons was always going to be refreshingly outspoken, he knows he can walk into a job with a English County side should it be needed, probably on better pay aswell, so he had no fear when it came to addressing issues with WICB publically

  40. The terminal decline of West Indies Cricket continues, radical overhaul of the WICB is clearly needed, but how to get there is the question.

    • I’ve seen this happen with T&T football under Jack Warner. Fans get increasingly frustrated and eventually the national team more as Jack Warner FC than their representatives. And then they stop going to games in their thousands.
      It is a long road back from there.

  41. And again the players are left in the cold without even a union to represent them.
    And we must again wonder how we got here and how we can reclaim the West Indies team.

    • Yea if there was any doubt before that WIPA is in bed with WICB this proves it. Not a word from Wavell Hinds when Ramdin was sacked, Chanderpaul was dropped or the Simmons issue although technically WIPA don’t represent coaches.

      All the great work Dinanath Ramnarine did as WIPA head has been torn apart by Hinds.

  42. Strictly speaking Simmo should not have gone public but there comes a stage when one is put in a situation where one has to conclude that enough is enough and is prepared to pay the ultimate price. In this case his job.

    • Ye that is the key point. Not need for people to get technical and try suggest he should have followed company protocol and not say nothing.

      A lot people have been suspicious that Bravo & Pollard have been victimized – WICB has been fooling no one. So if Simmons can speak out only solidifies the belief

  43. The man is obviously a patriot and wants what’s best for West Indies cricket. He sounds idealistic. Egos are a big part of the problem. I could hear Cameron saying that Bravo and Pollard will only get back in over my dead body especially after what happened in India. Baptiste and Walsh have no testicular fortitude.

  44. A lot of sport administrators would serve their sports better as fans.

  45. First of all, the people entrusted with governing cricket have to want a return to prominence for West Indies cricket. I haven’t seen much to suggest that they do.

    • But, Lasana, you have put your finger on it right there, apparently serendipitously. You talked about “governing cricket.” Was that deliberate or a mere Freudian slip?

  46. Not a big sports fan but the management of west indies cricket on the whole leaves a sour taste. What would it take to develop cricket to help return it to its former glory days. And bring in new, young fans. Sports used to be a source of national pride and unity. Is it management, sponsorship, lack of discipline or a combination of the three.

  47. As the small-minded Caribbean man continues on their paths of self, it is time for T&T to make some hard decisions. For too many years the trinbagonian has been at the whim and fancy of these egomaniacs. Let the WICB continue along with their Jambaj team, and let T&T move on alone. It is time….

    • T & T couldn’t make it alone. Years ago when Ganga was captain, you would’ve had a chance. But not now. If you have three genuine Test players, you have a lot. Plus your top players are all about self.

  48. Lasana, who’s the third selector?

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