Simmons: 'People will have high expectations when sport resumes behind closed doors'

Starved of live sporting action for weeks due to COVID-19, fans will have high expectations when sport resumes, feels West Indies head coach Phil Simmons.

File picture of West Indies coach Phil Simmons (centre) at a training session with the players.   -  K.R. DEEPAK

Starved of live sporting action for weeks owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, fans will have high expectations when sport resumes behind closed doors, feels West Indies head coach Phil Simmons.

West Indies is scheduled to tour England in July and the country’s cricket board (CWI) is in the final stages of its discussions with the English counterparts to ensure that the three-Test series goes ahead as planned.

“I think a lot of sport, for a while, is going to go ahead in front closed doors, and I think the expectancy here is high because I think people want some kind of sport to go on,” England-based Simmons was quoted as saying by Jamaica Gleaner.

“Sport is a part of life in England and even in the (football) Premiership, there’s a lot of talk about if it’s going to start back soon or not. But people are looking forward to sport coming back because the one thing that you’re missing here on the TV everyday is (live sport).

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“There’s a lot of old games being shown and people are enjoying that, but they’re looking forward to live sport; so there’s a lot of hope it happens, but that depends on how things are put together.”

Gearing up for the series, both England and the West Indies players have resumed training following the coronavirus-forced hiatus.

Simmons said players have been asked to maintain a “certain level of fitness” by working at home during the lockdown so that they don’t lag behind in their preparation if the proposed tour of England goes ahead.

“For the past four weeks or a little bit more than that, guys have been given different programmes and have been asked to even though they are locked away — because some territories had locked down very early — (to) find a room in their house or in their backyard to do work and keep themselves at a certain level of fitness,” he said.

“As places have opened up, guys have been, in some places, able to run on the beach, and in other places, go run outside; but the training itself has been stepped up.

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“And even now it (Caribbean) has opened up a little more, you have a few guys who can go out and bowl on a pitch somewhere just to get their rhythm back, so that’s how you have to progress.”

The former West Indies player said some bowlers have been able to do some spot bowling and hoped players can manage something at home to be in shape ahead of the tour.

“I don’t think that at this stage there are enough facilities open where you can go and practise, but they’re a few grounds where bowlers themselves can go and bowl,” he said.

“There are no batsmen, only spot bowling, and we hope that this develops and develops and by the time (and) if the tour comes off and we’re ready to leave, everybody would’ve done something at home.”

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