West Indies coach Phil Simmons has defended his and the selectors’ choice of players for the third and final Test of the #Raisethebat Series against England.
At the end of the third day at Old Trafford yesterday, the Caribbean side seemed to be on their way to conceding the Wisden Trophy, as they ended the day on 10 for two chasing 399 for victory with two more days of play available.
With Shannon Gabriel (who returned from ankle surgery for this tour), captain Jason Holder and wicketkeeper/batsman Shane Dowrich having to leave the field because of different issues yesterday, the Windies used up their quota of four substitute fielders.
“Yeah I think the Dowrich issue and the Shannon issue, it doesn’t add up to having fresh legs. I think they were all fresh enough when we started the Test match,” said Simmons.
Asked if there was any consideration of utilising fitter players from the reserve squad rather than the more experienced original squad, Simmons said: “There was consideration of everyone. At the end of the day we thought the team we played was the best one for this game, added to the fact that it was the challenge game, having been at 1-1, so I think every consideration was taken and we made the decision to go with the eleven that we went with.”
The coach stressed that every player on the park had been fit.
“So I think that is one of the things we took into consideration,” Simmons reiterated. “The fast bowlers especially had done a lot of work but I didn’t see any of them faltering in this game.”
The trio of Kemar Roach, who reached the 200 Test wicket milestone Saturday, Holder and Gabriel, bowled 326 overs in the series while Roston Chase tallied over 90.
However, on a tough tour, Simmons thought his bowlers deserved accolades for a tremendous effort.
“I am so appreciative, am so excited, so everything for the work that the bowlers have put in, especially the two quicks who played in all three Test matches and have given us everything that they have, so I will always raise a glass for them,” he said.
But Simmons conceded his batsmen were struggling where runs were concerned, a department they have struggled in since the second innings of the second Test.
“But all in all a lot of work has been done,” he maintained. “Yes the guys are going to go home on empty but that’s what you want after a (Test) series that they have given all and if all isn’t good enough, then you take that and you work on how you get better.”
Simmons is hoping the batsmen show the determination to attempt to defend their trophy today and tomorrow on what is still a good wicket.
But he admitted the going against an England seam attack that includes Stuart Broad and James Anderson has been one of their toughest propositions.
“Wherever you go it’s gonna be tough. I think...it is going to be tough facing two bowlers one nearing 600 (Anderson), one nearing 500 (Broad) wickets,” Simmons reasoned. “It’s going to make things hard. In the first innings of the second Test we handled it. We were doing what was necessary, we were getting scores, we got a few fifties but you have got to carry on. And these guys keep coming and they are relentless, so I think it is one of the most difficult places to bat and especially against these two so experienced fast bowlers.”