West Indies coach Phil Simmons feels playing behind close doors against England will favour the visiting side when international cricket resumes next month in a “bio-secure” environment in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Suspended since March due to the deadly virus, international cricket is set to be back when West Indies and England lock horns in a three-match Test series starting July 8 at Southampton.
“I don’t know if it will increase our chances, because both teams are under the same umbrella – for want of a better word,” Simmons said in a video conference from the team’s training base here.
“The nice part for us is that 20,000 Englishmen raving for England, and that crowd support, it’s not there for them. So that in a way will help us, so it’s good from that point of view.”
Besides the absence of hostile English fans, Simmons said lack of competitive cricket could also hurt the hosts in the series.
“…England hasn’t come from a tour recently, and we’ve just been playing cricket at home. Because in a normal situation we would have been coming from camps and England would have been halfway through their season and the series would have been going on right now.
“So, I think that is a plus for us, because it evens out things a little bit, with the fact they haven’t been playing competitive cricket for a while also,” he observed.
Having beaten England 2-1 in the Caribbean 18 months ago, a tied series would be enough for the West Indies to retain the Wisden Trophy.
‘We will be ready to defend our trophy’
But Simmons admitted that the West Indies would miss the services of Shimron Hetmyer, Darren Bravo and Keemo Paul in the series after the trio decided against travelling to UK for the tour amid the pandemic.
“Unfortunately a few guys decided not to come but we are here with the best squad that we can have here. And from the way we’ve started our work, the guys have been putting in, I think we’ll be ready and looking to defend our trophy.
“…we know what we’ll be missing. But in situations like this we have to work hard with the guys who are here and make sure that what we’re doing is putting them in a position to fill those two shoes for the series,” he said.
“Hopefully whoever fills the shoes can go on and be as great as they want to be.”