Players have the right to choose, affirms Simmons

DHAKA, Bangladesh, CMC – Head coach Phil Simmons said yesterday he could not question the decision of any player who chose not to tour amid the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking for the first time since 10 first choice players opted out of the One-Day International and Test series beginning next week, Simmons said regardless of the decisions players made, they possessed the right to determine whether they were comfortable playing in the prevailing conditions.

“I can’t say if it was the wrong call for them,” Simmons told an online media conference.

“Everybody has their reasons and their opinions on things. Their choices were made in consultation with whoever they consulted with, and they think that’s the decision for them so I can’t decide what’s best for anyone else but Phil Simmons.”

He added: “All of our players were given that option [of declining selection] from the first series. Some chose it in the first series, some chose it in the last series and some in this series. 

“People have different reasons for doing things and I can’t pre-judge or judge anyone’s reason for not going on a tour.”

Test captain Jason Holder and white-ball skipper Kieron Pollard were the two biggest named included in the exodus, due to what Cricket West Indies labelled “COVID related concerns or personal fears”.

Also included in the group were Darren Bravo, Roston Chase, Shamarh Brooks, Sheldon Cottrell, Shai Hope, Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer and Evis Lewis.

The pullout by players came despite assurances from CWI that the series could proceed safely, following a report provided by a Dr Akshai Mansingh, a member of its medical advisory committee, who carried out an overview of the protocols and facilities during a reconnaissance trip here last November.

Yesterday, health authorities here confirmed another 718 new cases of COVID-19 and 16 deaths, taking the overall infections to just over 524 000 and the death toll to 7 819.

West Indies arrived here Sunday and have spent the last three days in isolation. All players and officials have so far tested negative and training is expected to get underway today.

Simmons said the protocols to date had been a replica of recent tours of England and New Zealand last year.

“So far the protocols have been good.

The first three days we’ve been in our rooms and were supplied with breakfast, lunch and dinner, so it’s the same protocols in the other two places we went to,” he pointed out.

West Indies lost the three-Test series to England last July, going down 2-1, and failed to win a single game in the Twenty20 International and Test series in New Zealand.

And though conceding the COVID-19 environment brought with it challenges, Simmons backed his players to be focussed and ready to give 100 per cent on the current tour.

“It’s definitely not easy to be away from home in times like this for any of us but at the same time, the two series we played in once we got there, everything was given, every effort was put into the series and preparation was done in the right way,” he explained.

“We may not have had the results we wanted but we’ve put everything into it and it’s going to be the same for this series. No series away is easy these days but we’re here to give all.”

West Indies face Bangladesh in three ODIs from January 20-25 and in two Tests from February 3-15.

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