Phil Simmons has signed a new two-year contract to extend his reign as National Coach of the Ireland cricket team until the end of the 2015 domestic season.
The Trinidadian, who played 26 tests and 143 one-day internationals for the West Indies, took over from Adi Birrell following the 2007 World Cup, and has guided Ireland to a period of unparalleled success.
During his 197 games in charge, the team has qualified for six consecutive global events, and hopes to win an incredible 10th trophy this week when they meet Afghanistan in the final of the InterContinental Cup in Dubai on Tuesday.
The nine pots already in Simmons’ bag are the 2009 ICC Trophy, the 2013 World Cricket League Championship, two InterContinental Cups, three ICC World Twenty20 qualifiers, the 2008 European Championships and the 2010 World Cricket League Division One title.
“It wasn’t a difficult decision to agree a further two years,” said the 50 year-old Trinidadian.
“I love Ireland and the people, who have a similar outlook to life as West Indians. The team has been very successful, but importantly for me, they are still hungry for success and willing to learn and improve all the time.”
“We still have a long way to go and it’s an exciting period to be involved with Irish cricket, both on and off the field. We’re putting in place foundations which will serve the sport well in the generations to come.
“There’s always been quality in the Irish team, but we’re adding genuine depth which can be seen now in the players who aren’t in the squad. It’s certainly made selection meetings a lot longer though!
“We’ve dominated at Associate level and now have ambitions to take the game in Ireland to the next level with our desire to become a Test nation by 2020. We’re on course to meet the challenges and targets that have been set, and I’m delighted to be part of that set-up.
“I’d like to pay thanks to Cricket Ireland and the backroom staff – “the team behind the team” – who have been exceptional throughout my tenure, and made my job a real pleasure.”
Cricket Ireland Chief Executive Warren Deutrom was clearly upbeat after securing the deal. “We are delighted that Phil will be staying with us for at least another two years. It is obvious that he has been one of the main catalysts for the continued success not just of the squad, but also of Irish cricket itself, that is now generally regarded as the country’s fastest-growing sport.
“Like us, he believes that this team is capable of great things both in limited-overs cricket and, eventually, in the Test arena and his passion for the Irish cause remains undimmed.
“Irrespective that Phil is already the longest-serving coach at this level, it didn’t require much persuasion for him to remain at the helm of a squad that he continues to lead with enormous skill and conspicuous success.”
Simmons’ next game in charge will be the InterContinental Cup final against Afghanistan, which gets under way Tuesday (6am UK/Ireland).
Irish fans can view the action live from the UAE via the ICC website www.icc-cricket.com