Cricket: Simmons and Chanderpaul at loggerheads in Windies

Former Ireland head coach Phil Simmons.
Former Ireland head coach Phil Simmons.

Just when Phil Simmons was thinking he got his dream job as West Indies coach, he now maybe wishes he was back watching the North West Warriors.

The former Ireland coach was appointed the new West Indies coach after the recent World Cup, but it looks like he has already got a selection headache with West Indian legend Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

Australia have arrived for a two-Test series and the Windies have decided to drop Chanderpaul, who is only 87 runs short of passing Brian Lara’s record 11,953 runs for West Indies.

The Guyanese newspaper Kaieteur News obtained a fascinating WhatsApp conversation between the batsman and Simmons, discussing the issue.

Chanderpaul: I would make myself available for the upcoming Australia series. At the conclusion of the series, it would give me an opportunity to thank the WI public and the board for all the opportunities. It may also be an occasion for the WICB to recognise me for my long and dedicated service. It would be a good send-off after dedicating 21 years of my life to WI cricket.

Simmons: We had selection before each Test and I did back you for the Barbados Test when it was close between the selectors – but it is no longer close for the Australia series. I understand how you feel but it is in the hands of the selectors not yourself to decide on a squad for the series, so what I was saying to you is that you retiring would make more sense than you being left out of the squad for the series.

Chanderpaul: My request to finish up with the Australian series is not asking too much. It gives me a chance to acknowledge my supporters at home and the possibility of the WICB properly honouring me for my contribution to WI cricket. I should not be pushed into retirement. Here is a situation where I firmly believe public opinion would be in favour of me being given the opportunity to play in my final test series at home. Thanks.

Simmons: There is no dispute that you have dedicated the last 21 years of your life to WI cricket and, as stated before, this will be acknowledged and recognised by the WICB but, unfortunately, length of service is not a criterion for selection. If public opinion was a criteria for selection then we can agree maybe you would play until you are 50; unfortunately it is not. I am not pushing you into retirement I am, as previously said, trying to dignify the situation because Chanderpaul retiring would be more dignified than Chanderpaul being left out by the selectors.

Chanderpaul: Since you and the selectors said it is up to me to decide. I have decided to make myself available for the Australian series. I AM NOT RETIRING. Thanks.