West Indies v England, 2nd Test, Antigua February 11, 2009

Simmons eager to debut

Roger Seepersad

Lendl Simmons celebrates his double hundred against the England XI © Getty Images

Trinidad and Tobago batsman Lendl Simmons is looking forward to his Test debut following his inclusion in the West Indies squad for the second Test against England, starting in Antigua on Friday.

Simmons, who has represented West Indies in eight ODIs, demonstrated his aptitude in the longer version of the game with 282 for the A team against England in last month's tour game in St Kitts. "I am delighted to be called up to the West Indies for the second Test and I am really looking forward to going there and doing my best."

Simmons insisted a return to the West Indies team was always on his mind and now that he has been given the opportunity he will be looking to continue scoring runs. "Well, last season I had my eyes focused on this home series and from the beginning of the season I have been working really hard on getting form and trying to hit my target and my goals," he said. "I think I did really well at the start of the season and I got an opportunity now and I want to make good use of it."

T&T selector Claude Phillip said he had high hopes for Simmons, who he described as "a good selection" for the second Test against England. Phillip, a former first-class player, said he always had faith in Simmons. He felt Simmons had lifted his game this season and had been able to concentrate a lot more out in the middle.

"Simmons did surprise me a lot in terms of his concentration this season," Phillip said. "I knew he had the ability and the talent, but his problem was being able to concentrate for long periods and to bat for almost two days is a great credit to him," he said referring to Simmons' career-best 282.

Phillip was disappointed that the West Indies selectors had named the squad for the first Test before the tour match, but said it "had been the policy of the West Indies selectors in the past so it is not different for the present and, as the saying goes, better late than never". Phillip was hopeful that Simmons would replace Xavier Marshall, who has been dropped for the second Test.

"If he [Marshall] can't open he should not be in the West Indies team because there are too many middle order batsmen around to be persisting with him because he is not a good player of spin bowling and Simmons, if he does not open, could get that spot in place of Marshall."

The second Test begins on February 13 at North Sound, Antigua.