Belief, attitude ideal for series win, says SimmonsWednesday, July 08, 2020
SOUTHAMPTON, England (CMC) — Head Coach Phil Simmons has backed his energised West Indies to end their long drought in England but has stressed the importance of executing in all three areas of the game, if they were to pull off a victory in the three-Test series starting here today.
West Indies have not captured a series on English soil in 32 years — not since Sir Vivian Richards's great side thrashed the hosts 4-0 in a five-match series — and have managed only a single win in their last 16 Tests here.
And despite facing unusual restrictions triggered by the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has ravaged the United Kingdom, Simmons said there was strong resolve among the squad to succeed in the series.
“We definitely have the belief. I think the attitude I have seen and especially today, the attitude in training, it shows me that guys have the belief that we can win the series here,” Simmons told a media conference here via Zoom.
“I think the Test match in Leeds on the last tour has come up quite a few times and it just reminds guys that we are able to win Test matches here and therefore that helps with belief we can win the series.”
He continued: “I think the key thing is that we play proper cricket in all three facets of the game. We keep harping on the batting, we're talking about the bowling has been strong but I think we must field well and catch well also to give ourselves that chance.
“I think our frame of mind is that we have to play well in all three facets of the game in order to beat England.”
West Indies arrived on England's south coast last Friday to finalise preparations for the first Test at the Ageas Bowl, following nearly four weeks of training in isolation at the biosecure Old Trafford facility in Manchester.
In keeping with established health protocols for the series, they were forced to undergo two weeks' quarantine following their arrival in the UK early last month.
Players have been barred from contact with the public and tour games have been limited to 'inter-squad' fixtures, in order to mitigate against the threat of COVID-19 and even though all three-Tests will be played behind closed doors, Simmons said the restrictions had not negatively impacted his players.
“I think everyone is in the right frame of mind,” he explained.
“I think the pandemic has shook everyone in the world but over the last four weeks we spent in Manchester, we got the balance right as to how much we thought about it, as to how much we think about what we're here for and I think we have that balance now, so guys are looking forward to Wednesday [today] and that is the Test match.”
He added: “Some of the cricket we play in the Caribbean there's not many people watching, whether it's four-day cricket or Test cricket so it (playing behind closed doors) doesn't hold such a barrier for us.
“As cricketers when you're out there sometimes you need to block out the crowd and this is an ideal situation for that. I think once you're out there and you're focused, the crowd only comes into play once you're the home team. I think we will be fine with it.”
And with the unprecedented restrictions in place, Simmons conceded the series would be as much a test of players' mentality as their skill.
“I think there is a huge mental part to it because there is no crowd, you have to create your own mindset from that point of view so I think it's going to be huge,” he pointed out.
“But skill is still going to come into it because you have to bowl in the right areas, you have to bat properly. Both will be a factor in this series.”
West Indies enter the series still with a cloud over their batting after inconsistent performances in their two warm-up games at Old Trafford.
Captain Jason Holder, in particular, managed seven runs in three innings but Simmons brushed aside this as a major worry.
“I'm not concerned about the batting. I think the batting has worked very hard in getting to where they are now and all it takes now is for their mindset to be right for the Test match,” he said.
“There is no concern [about Jason]. I think Jason has played enough Test cricket now to know what he's working on and he thinks that mentally he's where he wants to be. He might not have scored runs in Manchester but he's been hitting the ball well.”
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