<
>

Phil Simmons to step down as Afghanistan coach after World Cup

On his appointment in December, Phil Simmons had been given a contract until the 2019 World Cup Peter Della Penna

Phil Simmons will step down as Afghanistan coach after the World Cup. The former West Indies opener, who was appointed to the position in December 2017, said the time was right for him to move on as the target he had been given - of helping Afghanistan qualify for the World Cup - had been achieved.

Simmons is understood to have communicated his decision to the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) on Saturday. His contract, which runs until the end of the World Cup, would likely have been extended given Afghanistan's results during his tenure, including their tournament win in Zimbabwe at the World Cup Qualifier last March.

"I have thought about it and I have actually given the ACB my notice that I will not be renewing my contract," Simmons told ESPNcricinfo. "I will move on to something different once my contract expires on July 15.

"I signed up originally for 18 months and I think I have done a lot in this period. It is time for me to move on to something else now. To want to get to the World Cup - that was ACB's goal at the time they appointed me. My goal is always to leave things better than when I joined: the way we practice, the way we think about the game, the way we assess other teams. I've tried to help the players in all those areas."

Simmons' decision to not extend his contract came close on the heels of the ACB's much talked-about change in the side's leadership, which brought an end to Asghar Afghan's four-year captaincy reign across formats. Gulbadin Naib was appointed ODI captain, while Rahmat Shah and Rashid Khan were put in charge of the Test and T20I teams respectively. Rashid and Mohammad Nabi, the two global superstars of Afghanistan cricket, had strongly criticised the move, tweeting in support of Afghan. Nabi said it wasn't "the right time" to change the captain, and credited Afghan for helping the team "gel" well. Rashid, who has also been the ODI vice-captain, called the move "irresponsible and biased".

Simmons revealed that neither the ACB nor the national selection committee had consulted or alerted him to the changes, catching him off guard.

"No, I was not aware of it. I was not given any reasons. It was the decision of the Afghanistan Cricket Board and the selectors," Simmons said. "How can I take it? I can't change it. So I have to just get on with what I have to do and make sure the squad is preparing in the same way I wanted them to prepare barring the [captaincy] change."

The full interview with Phil Simmons will be published on Monday, May 20