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Simmons named Afghanistan head coach

Phillip V. Simmons aka 'Phil', an experienced former Ireland head coach, had previously served as a consultant to the Afghanistan squad. Photo: Jamaica Observer
LONDON, England — Former West Indies coach Phillip V. Simmons aka 'Phil' has been tasked with taking Afghanistan to the 2019 World Cup after he was announced as head coach on Sunday, December 31, 2017.

The 54-year-old Trinidadian, a former Test cricketer, fills the post left vacant by Indian Lalchand Rajput, whose contract was not renewed last August, according to the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).

Simmons, an experienced former Ireland head coach, had previously served as a consultant to the Afghanistan squad.

“We went with Phil because he understands our team,” Shafiq Stanikzai, the ACB chief executive officer, was quoted as saying.

“He has coached West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland — all these are teams Afghanistan will play in the World Cup Qualifiers. He is a good prospect.”

He will now link up with the Afghan side in Dubai where they are preparing for a limited-overs series against Zimbabwe scheduled for February.

More importantly, Simmons will oversee Afghanistan's campaign at the all-important World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwbe next March, as they chase one of the two remaining spots at the showpiece in England the following year.

The 10-team tournament involves West Indies, who failed to achieve direct qualification because of their number nine ICC world ranking.

Afghanistan, who were granted Test status in June, are also scheduled to play India in their first-ever Test later in the year.

Simmons spent just over two years as West Indies coach but was axed five months after leading the Caribbean side to the capture of the Twenty20 World Cup in India last year April.

Cricket West Indies said the decision was taken because of “differences in culture and strategic approach.”

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