Phil Simmons wants West Indies to 'start being professional' after batting implosion

From 58 for 2, they collapsed to 116 all out, as Scotland shocked them by 42 runs in their opening match of the First Ro

West Indies were disappointing and “unprofessional” with their batting, but shouldn’t go down the rabbit hole of misery by thinking of the prospects of non-qualification to the Super 12s just yet. Those were the views of head coach Phil Simmons after his side was given a reality check by Scotland on their opening night at the men’s T20 World Cup in Hobart.

“I think the only world you can look for is ‘disappointed’. I think our batting – at least today – was definitely a bit unprofessional,” Simmons said. “We need to wake up and start being as professional as we can be, when we are batting. The bowlers seem to be working hard and putting us in good positions but the batters continue to falter.”

So what went wrong? Simmons wasn’t quite sure himself, and didn’t want to find reasons in the “heat of the moment.” He called for the dressing room and himself to “calm down” a bit and take raw emotions out of the loss before dissecting the defeat.

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“I don’t know. I haven’t questioned the dressing room yet; let them calm down a little bit first. I need to calm down a little bit first before I go into the dressing room,” he said. “There were too many soft dismissals. As batsmen, you have to pay a lot more attention to your wicket. Every time we play, we are up there with the run rate; it doesn’t matter who we are playing against.

“But we keep losing wickets – and soft wickets. I think that’s what we have been trying to remediate for the last couple of months. [It] doesn’t seem like it’s there yet.”

At 58 for 2 after midway into the eighth over, West Indies were well in control of their chase until a massive implosion took place. Spinners Mark Watt and Michael Leask picked up a combined 5 for 27 off eight overs as an innings that looked stable quickly ended in big disappointment, with West Indies falling short by 42 runs.

At the World Cup, West Indies have seemingly disturbed a settled opening combination of Kyle Mayers and Brandon King. Ewin Lewis, who missed much of the build-up to the tournament after failing to take a fitness test, was included to give their top order some impetus, especially given they were likely to be without Chris Gayle.

“The only world you can look for is ‘disappointed'”, coach Phil Simmons on West Indies’ batting•ICC via Getty Images

There were also questions marks over the batting positions of Jason Holder, among the best spin-hitters in the CPL, and Odean Smith. And against Scotland on Monday, Holder came in at No. 7 amid the spin choke as the chase headed nowhere, while Smith entered as low as at No. 10, after even Alzarri Joseph and Akeal Hosein.

Simmons was asked if the batting shuffle was one of the reasons for the defeat, but he was firm that that wasn’t a defining factor.

“Well, I don’t think so,” he said. “People need to be able to go up and make a difference. Sometimes a batsman goes up and he has to propel his side with ten balls, 15 off 10 balls and so on. Guys have to bat in different positions. Today there was no real different positions.

“I think guys were batting where they are strong. We talk about looking at data, looking at different things. But guys are batting where they are strong. I don’t think that can be used as an excuse.”

“When we get back at this time on Wednesday, then we may be thinking a lot differently. Last year, Bangladesh lost the first game and still ended up in the Super 12s. We just need to think about Zimbabwe right now.”

Simmons isn’t too concerned yet about West Indies potentially not making Super 12s

Amid the scrutiny of their batting, Simmons was particularly pleased with the bowling, and how West Indies pulled things back after the rain break to restrict Scotland to 160 after they had motored to 52 for 0 in 5.3 overs. That happened through Holder and Alzarri Joseph, as Scotland couldn’t kick on from where they had left off.

Holder hit the hard lengths and varied them with some cutters to take 2 for 14 off his three overs. Joseph came back quite nicely to also pick up two wickets in the middle overs to induce a bit of a slowdown before Scotland got a final kick.

“As I said before, the bowlers have been doing an excellent job, and if we look at the stats and the data, between overs seven to 15, we have been doing very well for the last year,” Simmons said. “For them to pull it back after that was expected from us. They did a great job.”

West Indies next play Zimbabwe on Wednesday, and Ireland on Friday. With the forecast stating showers over the next few days, the opening loss against Scotland could potentially make things tricky for West Indies, especially if it should come down to net run rate. But Simmons wasn’t willing to go that far yet.

“We need to beat Zimbabwe first (laughs). We’ll think about everything else… we need to beat Zimbabwe,” he said. “That’s the first step as we get along. When we get back at this time on Wednesday, then we may be thinking a lot differently, and [about] all those things you spoke about. Last year, Bangladesh lost the first game and still ended up in the Super 12s. We just need to think about Zimbabwe right now.”

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