After being blindsided by with the news that Coach Phil Simmons had made comments regarding "external" influences in the non-selection of Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard from the limited overs team, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has wasted no time with a predictable response: silencing all dissidents.
Simmons has summarily been suspended for giving voice to the challenges he faces as the coach in his efforts to return the regional combination of islands to even keel, if not to the dominant heights they previously perched upon.
One of Simmons' first statements as coach was his desire to converse with all players in an effort to have the strongest team available. Olive branches were handed out to all players and conversations were had to let each know where they stand. While several players previously in the wilderness for varying reasons have still not made themselves available for the Test team based on contract grievances, the limited overs format seemed to be sorted out for the most part.
However, the denial of a return for Bravo and Pollard from exile has in a sense emasculated the coach as his words and conversations would now be interpreted as mere patronage by many players.
A major facet of a coach's ability to foster team spirit and motivate his charges into performing to the maximum of their ability, is that idea of trust and support. By taking that away, the coach's job becomes immensely more difficult, yet he would still be judged by the same standard in terms of results. Many agree that the selection process remains a confidential issue and should not be aired in public. However, there is the argument that cricket, unlike football for example, holds the coach responsible for performances yet he is not able to have the team he would want in many instances.
"The West Indies Cricket Board has learnt of the comments from head coach of the West Indies team Phil Simmons in the print and electronic media which appear to question the legitimacy of the selection process of the one-day international squad for the tour of Sri Lanka. As a result, the management of the WICB has taken action to suspend the head coach, pending an investigation into the issue," the board statement read. "The head coach will not now travel with the team on the tour of Sri Lanka."
Eldine Baptiste, one of the selectors Simmons implied had been open to "external influence" is now the coach of the team until the investigation is complete. One can only wonder how a man of Simmons stature and character returns to a job after such a move. Simmons would surely be questioning his wisdom in moving from the loving embrace of Ireland to the tainted love of the West Indies.
After pioneering a series of town meetings throughout the caribbean with the stated goal, according to President Dave Cameron, for "all of its[West Indies Cricket] partners to work together in a coordinated approach to improve the product" the WICB internal wrangling has once again thrown a spanner into the rebuilding process.
Cameron, in the town hall meeting held in Trinidad just Friday, lamented that WI cricket keeps making one step forward and two steps back. These actions definitely fall into that category and leave long despairing fans even more disillusioned in the administration of the game in the region.