BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC):Phil Simmons was yesterday suspended as West Indies head coach for criticising the selection process regarding the one-day team for the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka.The Trinidadian, only appointed six months ago, made the shocking move of slamming the omission of Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo from the yet-to-be announced ODI squad, claiming there had been “outside interference” in the selection process.In a statement, the West Indies Cricket Board said it had “learnt of the comments from head coach of the West Indies team Phil Simmons in the print and electronic media which appear to question the legitimacy of the selection process of the one-day international squad for the tour of Sri Lanka”.”As a result, the management of the WICB has taken action to suspend the head coach, pending an investigation into the issue,” the release said.”The head coach will not now travel with the team on the tour of Sri Lanka.”Ironically, one group of West Indies players were scheduled to leave here yesterday for the Test tour of Sri Lanka, with the second group set to depart today.Eldine Baptiste, who was expected to be the ‘selector on tour’, will now replace Simmons for the two-Test series which will be followed by the one-day series.In a media conference at the conclusion of the team-preparation camp last Friday, Simmons took the unusual step of accusing “people” of using their “influence” to determine squad selection.”I think it’s disappointing from the fact that I haven’t got the best 50-over ODI squad that we can select in the Caribbean,” Simmons said.”The chairman, Mr (Clive) Lloyd, he came and he gave an exceptional speech, saying that he thinks it is time they (Bravo and Pollard) are back in the squad, and he gave exceptional reasons for them being back in the squad.No success in meeting”Unfortunately, when we went into the selection [meeting], we lost it 3-2. Him and myself – the captain (Jason Holder) doesn’t have a vote in this – but the captain also gave his views as why they need to be back.”He added: “That’s not the disappointing fact. The disappointing fact is that you can lose 3-2 in a vote-off, but there is too much interference from outside in the selection of the ODI squad, and it’s disappointing for me to know that in any aspect of life … [people would use] their position to get people into a squad, or in this case, get people left out of a squad.”It is wrong, and I don’t like it, and that is my beef with the selection of the ODI team.”Simmons was appointed last March following the ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, and has overseen home series against England and Australia.West Indies drew the three-Test series against England, 1-1, but lost the two-Test series to Australia, 2-0.Simmons, 52, is a former West Indies cricketer, who played 26 Tests and 143 ODIs between 1987 and 1999.
He has not appeared in public since. Early in the interview, Castro often trailed off midsentence, and needed some prompting by the interviewer. He had bags under his eyes, sunken cheeks and his thin gray beard looked as wispy as ever. But he appeared to get stronger and more comfortable as time passed. The video’s release came as a surprise. Cuban officials broke into regularly scheduled programming only minutes before the video was broadcast to announce that a “conversation” with Castro would be shown. They said the interview was taped Friday. Backing up the assertion, Castro mentioned recent prices of oil and the value of the euro against the dollar. He also discussed an essay he signed that was published in state media Wednesday. “Yesterday the euro was at U.S. $1.41. Oil I think about U.S. $84 a barrel,” Castro said. He also held up a copy of the new book by former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World. At one point he quoted from it, reading excerpted passages in very large type instead of using the book itself. The Cuban leader wore a red, blue and white jumpsuit with “F. Castro” in small block letters. “They criticize me” for wearing the tracksuit, Castro joked. But he said he was “not looking for anything elegant.” Castro’s condition and exact ailment are state secrets, though he wrote in one of his many essays that he had undergone multiple surgeries, at least one of which went poorly. He is recovering in an undisclosed location.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! In the first video of the ailing 81-year-old revolutionary seen in more than three months, a pale Castro stayed seated the entire time, spoke slowly and softly and didn’t always look the interviewer in the eye. But he appeared to be thinking clearly. The Cuban leader said he thought the Bush administration could go to war with Iran and bemoaned the high cost of the war in Iraq, but provided no new details about his health, except to say, “Well, here I am.” Mocking rumors of his death that have circulated in Miami and elsewhere in the United States, he said “they say `I was dying’ and `if I die’ and `I will die the day after tomorrow’ or something.” “Nobody knows the day they are going to die,” said Castro, who was forced to cede power to his younger brother Raul in July 2006 following emergency intestinal surgery. CUBA: In surprise, hourlong interview, leader seems healthier. By Will Weissert THE ASSOCIATED PRESS HAVANA – Fidel Castro looked alert and healthier during an hour-long interview taped and aired on Cuban television Friday, responding to rumors of his death with a defiant “here I am.”