Returning West Indies coach Phil Simmons has backed his two captains’ ability to get the most of their players, and suggested that Jason Holder will benefit from the decision to hand the white-ball reins to Kieron Pollard.
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Simmons said that Pollard – who was appointed captain of the limited-overs teams in September, despite not having played an ODI since 2016 – is capable of “leading from the front” with the bat.
“It showed in the T20Is with India,” Simmons said. “He took the reins and led in those. That’s what I expect from him: that responsibility of being captain is going to make him want to always be on top of the runs and leading from the front. He is that kind of a leader – even though he asks you to do something, it is not something he wouldn’t do or he wouldn’t want to do.”
Pollard was the leading run-scorer in that series with scores of 58, 8* and 49, and Simmons said that he expected that form to continue.
“I expect a lot of runs to come from him. Hopefully he doesn’t get to bat where he’s batting much because the top order should be performing now – they have been around for a while in both those two forms [ODIs and T20Is].”
And Simmons pointed to Pollard’s career as evidence that he stands up whenever he is under pressure.
“A lot of people write him off,” Simmons said. “The pressure always makes him stand up. If you look at his career, every time he’s under pressure he stands up and he shows ‘look, I’ve had a blip, but I’m back’.
“His experience in general, and not just the knowledge, but also his ability to involve all the players and his ability to give players challenges but at the same time be on their side – that natural leadership is there. It is something that he will bring a lot to the team.”
Pollard takes over as ODI captain after a difficult World Cup, in which Jason Holder’s side won just two matches and finished ninth in the ten-team round-robin group stage. That disappointment led Cricket West Indies to set up a task force to revamp their selection process, which recommended replacing Holder as captain, but Simmons thinks that “relaxing a little bit more” in white-ball cricket will allow him to maintain his impressive Test match form.
“It might be [beneficial] but that is something that he has got to answer that question,” he said. “He’s the No. 1 Test allrounder in the world, so he has shown that he has learned a lot in that format, and he is going to continue to lead this team.”
Holder was first appointed captain of the Test side back in 2015 at the age of 23, and Simmons said that his experience in the role meant he could now afford to demand performances of his players.
“With the experience he has now, he should be putting more pressure on a lot of the players to perform. So his role slightly changes, and he gets to relax in the other two formats because sometimes you could see that mind thinking on the field, and then when it comes to batting, the pressure is on.
“Now with him relaxing a little bit more in the other two formats, maybe you’ll see a lot more coming from him in the Test matches.”
Pollard’s first assignment as permanent skipper is a three-match ODI series against Afghanistan in India, followed by three T20Is. Holder will then lead the side in a one-off Test against the same opposition in Lucknow, before they play another white-ball series against India which comprises three T20Is and three ODIs.
A full interview with Phil Simmons will be published on ESPNcricinfo on November 1