Simmons joins Papua New Guinea as ‘specialist coach’ for T20 World Cup

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Phil Simmons, who coached West Indies to the 2016 T20 World Cup title, has joined Papua New Guinea as a ‘specialist coach’ ahead of the 2024 edition of the tournament in June.

Simmons’ second stint as West Indies coach ended soon after their group-stage elimination at the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia and he has worked extensively in franchise cricket since, coaching Trinbago Knight Riders, LA Knight Riders and Karachi Kings.

He will support head coach Tatenda Taibu, the former Zimbabwe wicketkeeper, and Cricket PNG said in a press release that he had been recruited because of his extensive experience of local conditions.

“My role here is as a consultant coach and [will be about] how I put across my experience, not just playing in World Cups but playing in the Caribbean and the things that we should be looking at to make sure we do it right in the Caribbean and especially the venues that we play at.

“As a player internationally, for fourteen years and then as an international coach for eighteen years, it’s been a long time in the game. It’s always brilliant to come home, always brilliant to come back to any part of the West Indies. You know how beautiful it is here. I’m looking forward to getting home, which is Trinidad.”

PNG arrived in St. Kitts at the end of last week after a four-day journey from Port Moresby. They are due to train and play various unofficial warm-up matches over the coming days before facing Oman and Namibia in official warm-up fixtures in Trinidad and Tobago next week.

They have been drawn in Group C of the World Cup itself. They will face co-hosts West Indies in their opening match in Guyana on June 2, then play Uganda four days later at the same venue. They will then travel back to Trinidad to face Afghanistan on June 14 and New Zealand on June 17.

Simmons said: “Their energy is unbelievable: their warm-up alone yesterday got me tired. The guys look like they have settled in really well… I’ve known the head coach for a long time and he’s always energetic. There is always a lot of energy, but the players seem to be pushing him where that is not so, and I like that atmosphere in the team.”

Batter Assad Vala will lead PNG, who will be playing their second T20 World Cup, after a winless campaign in 2021. (ESPNcricinfo)

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