He added: “I’ll always be eternally grateful for the opportunity given to me by Cricket Ireland, and in particular CEO Warren Deutrom, and it’s been a great partnership over the past eight years. “I’ve made some wonderful friends in that time, which has been among the happiest periods in my life. “It was a very difficult decision to leave, but I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to coach my home team. “They’re going through a difficult period at the moment, but I’m confident I can help to improve their fortunes.” West Indies overcame their sticky start to the ongoing World Cup to reach the quarter-finals, in which they face co-hosts New Zealand in Wellington on Saturday. Ireland captain William Porterfield, meanwhile, voiced his thanks to Simmons. “Phil has been superb for the team and Irish cricket throughout his time in charge. We’ve all improved and grown as cricketers thanks to his efforts,” he said. “He’s been a towering presence not just in Irish cricket, but across the world – where he is held in such high regard. “While it’s sad to be losing him at this time, everyone in the squad understands his reasons for wanting to coach his home country. “We wish him and his family all the very best in the future.” Deutrom added: “Everyone will miss Phil Simmons. “You don’t live in a country for eight years and not leave behind close ties and friendships. “His warmth and strength of values endeared him to everyone here – while his loyalty is unquestioned, as evident from one of the longest-ever coaching tenures in international cricket. “As Phil has contributed to us, so we are proud to have helped him develop his career to the point that he can now pursue his dream of coaching his home team. “He leaves with nothing other than our very best wishes. “Now our goal is simple, to find a replacement for Phil who will take us to our stated vision of playing Test cricket by 2019.” West Indies, who have been coached on an interim basis by Stuart Williams in New Zealand and Australia, have welcomed Simmons back in a statement on their website. West Indies Cricket Board chief executive Michael Muirhead said: ” We are thrilled with the appointment of Phil and we believe he is the right individual for our team and our region at this time, so we want to welcome him back home. “His independence of character and his resolve to stand up for what he believes in were also strong qualities that convinced us that Phil was best suited to usher the West Indies team into a new era of success.” Simmons won 26 West Indies Test caps and 143 in one-day Internationals between 1987 and 1999. West Indies have endured a difficult past few months, including a player dispute which led to a mid-tour abandonment of their trip to India last year and then Ottis Gibson’s departure as coach. But Simmons added: “West Indies have a tremendous history and prestige in the game, and I am honoured to have been given this opportunity to be head coach. “There is an abundance of young talent coming through the ranks, and to be able to assist with the development of the future playing talent in the West Indies is fantastic. I can’t wait to begin. “We are determined to give the supporters the brand of cricket and the level of success that we are all looking to achieve.” Former Test batsman Simmons, 51, is to leave the same post with Ireland and will be in charge of the Windies when England arrive for their tour of the Caribbean next month. Cricket Ireland confirmed Simmons’ departure on Friday. Phil Simmons is to become the new coach of his native West Indies as soon as the World Cup is over. Trinidadian Simmons has been Ireland coach for eight years, during which they have been the pre-eminent force among the associate nations and have qualified for every International Cricket Council global tournament. Under Simmons, Ireland have pulled off World Cup victories over England in 2011 and West Indies themselves just last month. They will face England again in a one-off one-day international in May, at the conclusion of their opponents’ Test tour of the Windies. Simmons said: “I’ve had eight wonderful years as Ireland’s head coach, and will always cherish the memories of those great days we’ve shared. “The players and staff at Cricket Ireland have been simply magnificent. The wins in the World Cups over full members were all special, as we showed the world just what Irish cricket is capable of. “The Irish and West Indians are very similar in their nature and outlook on life and sport. “They welcomed me into their country, and I engaged with their sporting heritage and culture – and I’m a richer, better person for it.” Ireland, who face a tough battle to qualify for the next World Cup in England in 2019 after ICC’s decision to streamline the tournament to 10 teams, will immediately begin their search for a successor to Simmons. Press Association
… Overseas-based to join in MayTHE Guyana Football Federation (GFF) yesterday announced the encampment of 25 national female football players, who were called to a five-day camp in New Amsterdam, in preparation for the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Women’s Caribbean Cup scheduled for May 24-28.A release from the Federation stated that this is the first time since the new Executive has been at the helm of football administration in Guyana that the female national team will participate in the CFU Women’s Caribbean Cup and this speaks to the renewed focus of the new administration towards women’s football development in Guyana.The players, selected via the GFF’s Technical Development programme, include those from Linden, Berbice, Rupununi, West Demerara and Georgetown. All of the players were also part of the recently concluded inaugural Women’s Development League.This is the first of two camps for the team, commonly referred to as ‘Lady Jags’, and features two goalkeepers, eight defenders, seven midfielders and eight forwards from the following member associations – Georgetown – 10, West Demerara – 5, Berbice –1, Upper Demerara – 3 and Rupununi – 6.The second camp, scheduled for May 12-22, will include overseas-based players following which the squad will be announced.Encampment for the ‘Lady Jags’ is managed by head coach designate and Technical Development Officer, Akilah Castello assisted by recently-appointed GFF’s Women’s Development Officer, Trisha Munroe.The encamped squad: Ruth George, Nataile Nedd (GK), Anastacia Horsham, Keshauna McRae, Rebekah Nurse, Ronecia Lewis, Odessa Romeo, Collette Hope, Ameka Semple, Jillian Hawker (Defenders), Terryka Joseph, Lakeisha Pearson, Siacy Adams, Tiandi Smith, Shamika Marcus, Vanissa Sacapieo, Roshanna Grandison (Midfielders), Sasha James, Anulissa Johnson, Chante Leacock, Sherrilyn Kingston, Samantha Roberts, Helen Domingo, Sonia Griffith and Shennel Daniels (Forwards).