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We can't beg people to play for West Indies, says coach Phil Simmons

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Jamaica, Aug 10 (Ajit Weekly News) Expressing disappointment over constant non-availability of their players, chief coach Phil Simmons has said that he can’t beg people to play for West Indies and if cricketers are keen to represent the country they should make them available.

The West Indies cricket team is going through a sorry state of affairs as many of their players are playing in different leagues all around the world but they are not available to play for the country.

Andre Russell hasn’t made himself available for selection for a long time while the status of Sunil Narine’s availability is a bit of a mystery. Apart from them, Evin Lewis and Oshane Thomas have not appeared for their fitness tests and the likes of Sheldon Cottrell, Fabian Allen and Roston Chase are all out with injuries, an ESPNcricinfo report said.

As a result, with the men’s T20 World Cup about two months away, West Indies are far from identifying their best squad, and the 4-1 series defeat to India at home recently hasn’t helped their case either. The three-match T20I series against New Zealand, starting later in the day, gives the team management one last chance to see the players in an international set-up before the CPL.

Russell has not played for West Indies since the 2021 T20 World Cup. He’s playing the Hundred at the moment — along with Narine — and missed the home series against India and now against New Zealand. A couple of days ago, the hard-hitting batter was part of the list of overseas players unveiled by the UAE’s International League T20, which begins in January next year.

“From what I have gathered, I think he is unavailable because he hasn’t made himself available,” lead selector Desmond Haynes said of the Russell situation.

“I will love everyone to play for the West Indies. I would love to make sure that all the guys make themselves available to play. But you must realise that the guys have options now, and if guys are choosing other franchises in front of West Indies, then we have to pick from who is available to us,” he added.

Meanwhile, Simmons used some stronger words to describe the current situation.

“It hurts. There’s no other way to put it. But what can you do? I don’t think that I should be begging people to play for their countries. I think if you want to represent the West Indies, you will make yourself available,” the coach said.

“Life has changed, in that people have the opportunities to go different places and if they choose that over the West Indies, that’s just how it is,” he added.

The CPL, which runs from September 1 to October 1, will help West Indies in their selection for the T20 World Cup. The Nicholas Pooran-led West Indies will have to play the first round of games, which starts on October 16, to qualify for the Super 12 round of the T20 World Cup.

“If there is a competition that is run by the West Indies (and) somebody is playing well, I think his name should really come up for selection,” Haynes said about considering CPL performances for World Cup selection.

“That performance is very important to us, and we didn’t say that we have picked the World Cup team yet, so all the games that are going to be played leading up to the World Cup, we must take into consideration,” he added.

–Ajit Weekly News

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