Phil Simmons has accepted an offer from the West Indies Cricket Board to become their new head coach at the conclusion of the ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
The appointment will bring to an end the Trinidadian’s eight years of unparalleled success as Ireland coach, in which time his charges have dominated Associate cricket, winning 11 trophies and qualifying for every ICC world event.
“I’ve had eight wonderful years as Ireland’s head coach, and will always cherish the memories of those great days we’ve shared,” said Simmons.
“The players and staff at Cricket Ireland have been simply magnificent. The wins in the World Cups over full members were all special as we showed the world just what Irish cricket is capable of.
“The Irish and West Indians are very similar in their nature and outlook on life and sport. They welcomed me into their country and I engaged with their sporting heritage and culture and I’m a richer, better person for it.
“I’ll always be eternally grateful for the opportunity given to me by Cricket Ireland and in particular CEO Warren Deutrom, and it’s been a great partnership over the past eight years. I’ve made some wonderful friends in that time, which has been among the happiest periods in my life.
“It was a very difficult decision to leave, but I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to coach my home team. They’re going through a difficult period at the moment, but I’m confident I can help to improve their fortunes.”
Ireland captain William Porterfield paid tribute to the outgoing coach saying: “Phil has been superb for the team and Irish cricket throughout his time in charge. We’ve all improved and grown as cricketers thanks to his efforts.
“He’s been a towering presence not just in Irish cricket, but across the world where he is held in such high regard.
“While it’s sad to be losing him at this time, everyone in the squad understands his reasons for wanting to coach his home country. We wish him and his family all the very best in the future.”
Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom echoed the sentiments. He said: “Everyone will miss Phil Simmons. You don’t live in a country for eight years and not leave behind close ties and friendships. His warmth and strength of values endeared him to everyone here while his loyalty is unquestioned, as evident from one of the longest-ever coaching tenures in international cricket.
“That said, you judge a coach on results. He took over from another much-loved coach in Adi Birrell, who gave Phil big shoes to fill. Over the last eight years, Phil has built upon Adi’s legacy by overseeing our qualification for every major ICC event, identifying our best young talent, developing our players in skill-levels and self-belief, and producing a series of results that means every team in the world takes us seriously.
“As Phil has contributed to us, so we are proud to have helped him develop his career to the point that he can now pursue his dream of coaching his home team. He leaves with nothing other than our very best wishes, and we wish Phil, Jace and the family all the very best back home in the Caribbean.
“Now our goal is simple, it is to find a replacement for Phil who will take us to our stated vision of playing Test cricket by 2019.”
Simmons was in charge of Ireland for 224 matches from April 2007, making him the longest serving current coach in international cricket. During that time, Ireland won 116 and lost 89 games, including victories over England, West Indies, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh during his tenure.
Cricket Ireland will begin the search for a head coach immediately.