ICC World Cup 2019 qualifier: Afghanistan coach Phil Simmons not trying to exact revenge on West Indies despite axe

Simmons, 54, took over the reins of Afghanistan in December and his mission is to get the newly-minted Test team to a second successive World Cup in England and Wales next year.

AFP, March 03, 2018

Harare: Phil Simmons insists that leading Afghanistan to the 2019 World Cup and not exacting revenge over his West Indies compatriots is his only priority when the 10-team qualifying tournament gets underway on Sunday.

File photo of Phil Simmons. AFP

File photo of Phil Simmons. AFP

Simmons, who played 26 Tests and 143 ODIs for the Windies from 1987 to 1999, was sacked as coach of the Caribbean side in 2016, just five months after leading them to the World T20 title in India.

His sacking was preceded by a suspension the previous year for publically criticising the Windies' selection policy.

Simmons, 54, took over the reins of Afghanistan in December and his mission is to get the newly-minted Test team to a second successive World Cup in England and Wales next year.

Afghanistan take on Scotland in their opening match at Bulawayo on Sunday with Simmons playing down his team's status as one of the favourites to reach the finals.

"I am not putting the 'favourites' tag on me. We have just come here to play cricket, we need to play proper cricket and win this tournament," said Simmons who has plenty of "inside knowledge" of his opponents in the three-week qualifying event.

As well as the Windies, the former all-rounder has coached hosts Zimbabwe and enjoyed a successful eight-year spell in charge of Ireland with whom he reached two World Cups.

Afghanistan are in Group B with Zimbabwe, Scotland, Nepal and Hong Kong.

The Windies, world champions in 1975 and 1979 but forced to qualify this time around, are in Group A with the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates.

Three teams from each pool go through to the Super Sixes - where Afghanistan and the Windies could meet - with the top two sides at the end of the process booking their spots at the 2019 World Cup.

'Want to win all the time'

"I am one of those who wants to win all the time, and I think these guys are the same," added Simmons.

"So, the more we will win, the easier it will get for us in the Super Six stage. You win the Super Six stage, you are in the World Cup as well as in the final. That’s how we look at it.”

The Windies have endured a torrid few days in Zimbabwe, already losing to Afghanistan in a rain-affected warm-up and then getting bowled out for a paltry 115 by the UAE before left-arm spinner Nikita Miller claimed five wickets to save the Windies' embarrassment.

The Windies will face UAE again on Tuesday in their tournament opener.

"It is not going to be making 300-plus and then bowling teams out. It is going to be working out how to get to 180 to 220 and then deciding how to get the 10 wickets," said the Windies' Australian coach, Stuart Law.

"To be honest, the wickets (in the warm-up matches) weren’t as conducive as we want to play and so just have to come up with different ways to go about it.

"We do target 300-plus as we found in New Zealand, that’s probably a benchmark score these days in One-Day Internationals. Here, we have to lower that target just to make sure we are safe to play better cricket or make better decisions out in the middle and get the job done."

Law, who played one Test and 54 ODIs for Australia from 1994 to 1999, said the experience of Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Miller will be key.

"You can’t buy experience on a shelf. You need these guys in these tough conditions to stand up as well and guide the youngsters through the difficult periods."

Sunday's matches

Group A

Ireland vs Netherlands, Papua New Guinea vs UAE

Group B

Zimbabwe vs Nepal, Afghanistan vs Scotland

Updated Date: Mar 03, 2018

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3634 125
2 South Africa 3589 112
3 Australia 3499 106
4 New Zealand 2354 102
5 England 3772 97
6 Sri Lanka 2914 94
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 5599 124
2 India 5492 122
3 South Africa 3842 113
4 New Zealand 4602 112
5 Pakistan 3279 102
6 Australia 3474 102
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 3270 131
2 Australia 1894 126
3 India 3932 123
4 New Zealand 2542 116
5 England 1951 115
6 South Africa 2058 114