Darren Sammy’s West Indians clash with George Bailey’s Australia in the second semi-final at the Premadasa Stadium tonight.
Simmons made five trips to India as a member of the West Indies team. His unbeaten 104 was a match-winning performance in the Thiruvananthapuram ODI on the 1987-88 tour of India. In the 1991-92 home ODI series against South Africa, Simmons returned with a century each time he walked out to bat. He scored 122 and 104 in first and third ODIs respectively and was not required to bat in Game Two.
His nephew Lendl is part of the West Indies squad here in Sri Lanka.
Excerpts from an interview:
Ireland, the team you coach, made an early exit, but are you tipping the West Indies to win the title?
On paper, they have one of the strongest teams in this format. But they have to play together as a team. They can’t be just dependant on Chris Gayle or Kieron Pollard or Dwayne Bravo. Everybody needs to come to the party. If they can do so, they’ll end up winning.
Is it a matter of pride that after a long time, the West Indians are seen as strong contenders for a world title?
They seem to be improving. We want our cricket to be back on top. I hope they emerge as champions for us to have something good to talk about.
Who will be the key players in the forthcoming game?
I like Chris Gayle very much. But Pollard and Shane Watson have also excelled in their roles. Watson’s all-round quality is going to make a big difference.
Are you impressed with India’s Virat Kohli?
The world does see Virat as the next big star. He is dynamic in all forms of the game. It’s up to him to acquire the aura of a Sachin Tendulkar or a Brian Lara.
Your thoughts on MS Dhoni’s leadership skills…
He backs his players and that’s what I like about Dhoni. I don’t agree with the view that this tournament was an acid test for him. He has proved himself at all levels, in all forms of cricket. Everybody has a bad season or two. Even greats like Viv Richards, Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar have endured them. People go down and then they come up.
You were a successful ODI player. Do you regret not playing T20 cricket?
I never regret anything, though I would have loved to play this format since it is very exciting.