Simmons extends coaching contract with Ireland

 Former West Indies allrounder Phil Simmons has signed a two-year extended cricket coaching contract with Ireland.

The Trinidadian will remain in charge of Ireland until the end of the 2015 domestic season, according to cricket website ESPNcricinfo.

Simmons, who took over as Ireland coach following the 2007 Cricket World Cup which was staged in the Caribbean, has led the team in qualifying for six straight global events, and won nine trophies including three ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers, two Intercontinental Cups, the 2008 European Championships, 2009 ICC Trophy, 2010 World Cricket League Division One title and the 2012 World Cricket League Championship. 

He will have a chance to add to that collection on Tuesday, when Ireland and Afghanistan meet in the Intercontinental Cup final in Dubai.

“It wasn’t a difficult decision to agree a further two years,” Simmons said. “I love Ireland and the people, who have a similar outlook to life as West Indians. The team has been very successful, but importantly for me, they are still hungry for success and willing to learn and improve all the time.

“We still have a long way to go and it’s an exciting period to be involved with Irish cricket, both on and off the field. We’re putting in place foundations that will serve the sport well in the generations to come.

“There’s always been quality in the Irish team, but we’re adding genuine depth, which can be seen now in the players who aren’t in the squad. It’s certainly made selection meetings a lot longer though.

“We’ve dominated at Associate level and now have ambitions to take the game in Ireland to the next level with our desire to become a Test nation by 2020. We’re on course to meet the challenges and targets that have been set, and I’m delighted to be part of that set-up,” said Simmons who was voted a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1997.

Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom was upbeat after securing the deal. 

“We are delighted that Phil will be staying with us for at least another two years. It is obvious that he has been one of the main catalysts for the continued success not just of the squad, but also of Irish cricket itself, that is now generally regarded as the country’s fastest-growing sport,” he said. —CMC

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