West Indies coach Phil Simmons should be sacked immediately, according to Cricket West Indies (CWI) director and Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) president Conde’ Riley after putting the health of him and his players at risk by attending a funeral.
Simmons has come under fire after he left the West Indies camp in the United Kingdom, ahead of the Test series against England which begins on Wednesday, to attend the funeral of his father-in-law last week.
CWI have confirmed that UK-based Simmons had gained permission to leave the camp to attend the funeral, which was held elsewhere in the UK, before having to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine period as the squad assembled in England.
Simmons has twice tested negative to coronavirus and is set to get the all-clear to link up with the squad on Wednesday but that didn’t stop Riley from calling for Simmons to be removed, labeling his actions “inconsiderate and reckless” in an extraordinary swipe.
“I just heard on the radio that our head coach Mr Phil Simmons attended a funeral recently and is now being quarantined as a result. If this is true I am calling for his immediate removal as head coach,” Riley wrote in an email to CWI president Ricky Skerritt .
“I am being bombarded by concerned parents and members of the BCA. This behaviour is inconsiderate and reckless. It endangers the lives of those 25 young men in the UK and in fact the entire management team and cannot be tolerated.
“The English press will have a feast on his judgement and I suggest we act swiftly.”
CWI and West Indies skipper Jason Holder both insisted that Simmons’ job wasn’t in jeopardy as a result of the situation which has “hurt” the coach’s family.
“When all is said and done, Phil’s job is not in any way threatened by that letter,” Skerritt told a conference call.
“He went through a very vigorous recruitment process nine months ago and was the best man we could have found for the job. He’s still the best man.”
The West Indies have traveled to the UK with a playing group of 25 players, including 11 on standby, for a series to be played behind closed and with squads restricted to strict bio-secure environments.
The First Test, where Ben Stokes will lead England with Joe Root unavailable, will be played at Southampton’s Ageas Bowl and is the first international cricket to be played since the coronavirus outbreak.
There have been more than 313,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the UK, with 43,906 deaths at the time of writing, although the curve of daily cases has stabilised to be below 1,000 per day over the past week.