Dubai: West Indies coach Phil Simmons, a journeyman who was a former coach of Afghanistan, revealed that racial abuse while playing league cricket in England had affected him and his wife during his playing days.
Simmons played in various leagues in England in the 80s and 90s and was a key member of the Leicestershire side which won the County Championship in 1996.
“I encountered quite a bit (of racism) up in the leagues,” Simmons was quoted as saying in an interview. “In county cricket I haven’t really encountered that much. But I have encountered it in the leagues.
“It’s not a nice thing to face. Especially in the leagues where you’re by yourself sometimes. It affected my wife when I was up there. It’s not a nice thing.
“I played in three or four different leagues. It was one particular league up in the north east,” he added.
The West Indies coach, meanwhile, confirmed that his side will “definitely” register their “solidarity” with the Black Lives Matter movement when the Test series against England begins next month.
“We definitely are thinking about things that we can do to show our solidarity with the movement,” Simmons said. “We definitely have plans to show our unity and our backing to it. The chats with the English are on-going and by the end of this week we’ll see what we can do together,” he added.
Simmons said their fast bowler Shannon Gabriel is set to join the Test squad having regained his pace and fitness.The 32-year-old right-arm quick arrived in England as one of 11 reserve players, with doubts about his fitness following an ankle injury.
“The last week he’s been at full tilt and he looks fit,” added Simmons. “He’s bowling as fast as I’ve seen him for a while so he’s ready and close enough to the test match.”
West Indies will play two warm-up matches before the first Test in Southampton from July 8 and Simmons will be keeping an eye on Gabriel’s progress before deciding whether to add him to the Test pool.
“When leaving home 14 were named in the squad,” the coach said.
The second and third matches are at Old Trafford in Manchester from July 16-20 and then July 24-28.