Bridgetown (Barbados), Feb 20:
Former West Indies all-rounder Phil Simmons is to be appointed the new head coach of the embattled Caribbean cricket side and is set to take over following the World Cup.
A source with intimate knowledge of the recruitment and selection process confirmed to CMC that Simmons’ appointment was virtually “a done deal”, and would formally assume duties once the ongoing showpiece in New Zealand and Australia wrapped up next month.
CMC understands he was one of seven candidates being considered for the post.
The 51-year-old Simmons currently serves as Ireland head coach and only last Monday inspired his side to a shock four-wicket defeat of the West Indies, in their World Cup 0opener at the Saxton Oval.
He is in his eighth year as Ireland coach, having signed a two-year contract extension in December, 2013.
Trinidadian Simmons, who has coached Zimbabwe in the past, fills the post made vacant by another former West Indies player Ottis Gibson, who parted ways with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) last August, just days prior to the start of the Bangladesh tour of the Caribbean.
Ever since, assistant coach Stuart Williams, team manager Richie Richardson and bowling coach Curtly Ambrose have assumed technical duties with the side.
Several names, including that of South African Mickey Arthur, were last year bandied about but the WICB quashed speculation by saying that there would be no rush to fill the vacant post.
And only last September, WICB president Dave Cameron said the board was hoping to make an appointment “within the New Year”.
Simmons has had exceptional success as Ireland coach since succeeding Adi Birrell back in 2007. During his tenure, he has overseen the capture of two Intercontinental Cups while ensuring qualification for four successive World Twenty20 campaigns.
In 2013, Ireland – an associate International Cricket Council member – became the first team to win the Associates’ treble of the Intercontinental Cup, World Cricket League and Twenty20.
Simmons’ first series in charge of the West Indies will be against England, who tour the Caribbean April 6-May 5 for three Tests.
In a career spanning 12 years for the West Indies, the former right-handed batsman and right-arm seamer played 26 Tests, scoring 1002 runs at an average of 22 and grabbing four wickets.
In 143 One-Day Internationals (ODIs), he managed 3675 runs at an average of nearly 29, while picking up 83 wickets. He played his last ODI May 30, 1999. IANS