Phil Simmons credits West Indies' top order for victory over Australia
West Indies coach Phil Simmons was all praise for his batsmen after the Carribeans comfortably defeated Australia by four wickets in the ongoing triangular series which also involves South Africa in St Kitts on Monday. The former all-rounder hailed the team’s top-order and singled out Marlon Samuels for special praise after his match-winning knock of 92 which came off just 87 balls.
Apart from Samuels, the top-four comprising of Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, and Darren Bravo, made significant contributions as West Indies chased down the target of 266 set by the Australians with 26 balls to spare. Simmons expressed his delight at the manner in which the batsmen at the top played exactly the way he wanted them to.
"The pressure has been put on the top four to make sure that they set up whatever we have to do at the bottom," Simmons said, as reported by ESPNCricinfo. "We know how devastating we can be at the end of an innings with the players we have, so the top four have been asked to put their dancing shoes on and make sure that we are in a position where the latter part of the batting can do what they do, and they've done that today and they've seen us through."
While Samuels made all the right noises with his superb innings, he also courted controversy – something the 35-year-old is accustomed to nowadays – getting into an altercation with Australian wicketkeeper Matthew Wade which eventually saw him err in judgement and getting run out. Unfortunately for Steven Smith’s men, the damage had already been done and Simmons offered his full backing to the experienced star.
"I think the fact that he has taken us to victory in the game will be enough for him. I don't think he's still worrying about what some people in Australia said," he said. "I think he answered that in the World T20 final. I think he's left that there. He's just happy to score the runs and help the team win."
Experience vital for any side, says Simmons
Simmons also stressed the importance of having experienced players in any squad, especially a side like West Indies which was being led by a young skipper in Jason Holder.
"In every team you can see there's experience. You have to have experience all through the team," he said. "Most of the teams in the world, you have young guys coming in, but only one or two [youngsters] and the rest of the team is experienced veterans, you would call them; after five years, you are a veteran. It's great to have him, it's great to have Pollard back because he's experienced in limited-overs cricket, young Bravo is getting there. So it's great to have that sort of experience especially where Jason is a young captain and Carlos [Brathwaite] is young."
Despite victories over South Africa and now Australia, Simmons is constantly looking out for improvements in West Indies’ game and made a few pointers, especially with regards to the importance of the pure batsmen in the side to hang on till the end, especially when the side was chasing a target.
"Marlon and Bravo finishing off the game rather than somebody getting out. It's a case where we have two guys who have put us in a position and they need to carry on. I think there can be a little bit of improvement," he said. "We are always looking to improve our fielding, which I think today was as good as it has been. And I think we are looking to improve on where we bowl in the first 10 overs and things like that."