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Ex-Ireland coach Simmons gets West Indies backing after facing sack calls for attending funeral

Simmons, who was Ireland boss for eight years from 2007, has twice tested negative for the coronavirus.

West Indies cricket coach Phil Simmons.
West Indies cricket coach Phil Simmons.
Image: PA

WEST INDIES COACH Phil Simmons has been told he is in no danger of losing his job after the Barbados Cricket Association president said the former Test batsman should be sacked for attending his father-in-law’s funeral.

Simmons is currently in self-isolation at the team’s on-site hotel at Old Trafford ahead of next week’s first Test against England at Southampton after being granted a request for compassionate leave before the squad left for Britain.

Simmons temporarily left the West Indies’ protective bubble to attend the funeral, which took place in Britain. Simmons has twice tested negative for the coronavirus and will rejoin the squad if he’s given the all-clear following another test which was carried out on Wednesday.

But ahead of a Test series taking place against the backdrop of Covid-19, ESPNCricinfo revealed that BCA chief Conde Riley had written to Cricket West Indies president Ricky Skerritt lamenting an “inconsiderate and reckless” process as he called for Simmons’ dismissal.

But Skerritt told a conference call: “I want to assure West Indies cricket fans that Phil Simmons still has the full backing of Cricket West Indies no matter what has been said. When all is said and done, Phil’s job is not in any way threatened by that letter.

“He went through a very vigorous recruitment process nine months ago and was the best man we could have found for the job. He’s still the best man.”

Meanwhile, Simmons, in his second stint as Windies coach, said: “This has not been an easy time for my family. My wife was very close to her father and his passing has hurt us. There was no question of me not going to the funeral. My wife, my daughters and my son needed that support. Family is a huge thing for me.

“It won’t disrupt us, it will just make us a little stronger going into the Test series. Our focus is still on the series.”

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West Indies captain Jason Holder had no qualms over Simmons’ brief absence.

“Phil has done what was asked of him and I don’t have any issue with it,” he said. 

© – AFP, 2020

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