‘I won’t beg!’
Coach Simmons says elite players should decide on Windies commitment
SIMMONS... I make it a point in my time as coach, with anywhere I’ve gone, I don’t think that I should be begging people to play for their countries (Photo: CWI Media)

In light of the continued unavailability of some elite senior men's team cricketers for recent West Indies Twenty20 (T20) engagements, Head Coach Phil Simmons says he is "hurt" but will not "beg" players to represent the regional side.

West Indies, who today are set to start a three-match T20 series against New Zealand in Jamaica, recently hosted Bangladesh and India.

The hosts beat Bangladesh 2-0 in the three-match T20 series, but were humbled 1-4 by world number one India in five matches.

For the matches, West Indies were without superstar all-rounder Andre Russell, dashing left-hand opener Evin Lewis, and premier spinner Sunil Narine and Fabian Allen, who has emerged as one of the region's best all-rounders.

In the midst of concern about the regional side's generally weak performances, especially given the next T20 World Cup is set for October to November in Australia, both Simmons and lead selector Desmond Haynes, though not naming players, said it was up to them to decide where their priorities are.

"I make it a point in my time as coach with anywhere I've gone, I don't think that I should be begging people to play for their countries. I think if you want to represent West Indies you would make yourself available for West Indies cricket," Simmons said during Tuesday's press conference on the eve of the opening T20 against New Zealand at Sabina Park.

"It hurts, there's no other way to put it. The two of us [Simmons and Haynes] played for West Indies, so we know the passion that we played with and thing, so it does hurt me. But, as I said, what can you do? They have choices and choices have been made," the West Indies head coach continued.

While Lewis has a history of fitness challenges, and according to Cricket West Indies, has not undergone the required fitness test to prove his readiness and/or willingness to play for the team, Russell, Narine and Allen have been said to be unavailable.

Haynes noted that the lure of the myriad lucrative cricket franchises around the globe has at times robbed the team of its best players.

"I would love everyone to play for West Indies, I would really like to make sure the guys can make themselves available and play, but the guys got options now. And if they are choosing franchises in front of West Indies, well, we have to pick from whoever is available to us," Haynes said.

Said Simmons: "Life has changed, in that people have the opportunity to go different places and if they pick that over West Indies, well, that's how it is. It doesn't make sense me going out there and beg you to play for West Indies because I don't know if you'd come with as strong a heart as I'd want."

Russell, 34, and Lewis, 30, both last played T20 cricket for West Indies against Australia during the team's dismal World Cup campaign in the United Arab Emirates in November last year.

The 34-year-old Narine last played a T20 International against India in Guyana in August 2019.

Allen, 27, most recently featured in a T20 match away to India in February of this year.

— Sanjay Myers

West Indies players, including Andre Russell (centre), celebrate taking the wicket of Pakistan's Sarfaraz Ahmed during the 2019 50-over Cricket World Cup group-stage match at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, England on May 31, 2019. (Photo: AFP)
SIMMONS... we know the passion that we played with and thing, so it does hurt me (Photo: AFP)
HAYNES... if they are choosing franchises in front of West Indies, well, we have to pick from whoever is available to us.
Sanjay Myers

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