From September 2015, the term of Phil Simmons as coach of West Indies became a test; a test for the West Indies Cricket Board.

That month, in a television interview, Simmons took the unusual step of complaining about his employers in public. Simmons survived a firing over his claims of "outside interference" in the selection process for the one-day international team to tour Sri Lanka.

But that issue of high controversy became the defining moment of a relationship that changed for the worse; a relationship that again asked questions about the WICB's ability to manage its affairs.

More than many of the WICB's previous appointments, Simmons came in on a wave of optimism powered by much good feeling. Not the greatest of West Indies players himself, he was always respected for his courage and commitment to the cause. His success with Ireland also gave evidence of genuine coaching ability, so his fit for the West Indies cricket team, which he had always served with pride, seemed perfect.

WICB CEO Michael Muirhead certainly seemed to think so back in March 2015 when he hired Simmons out of a field of seven, saying: "Phil has a proven ability to develop players, while cultivating great team spirit and a winning culture. We have a number of young, talented players about whom he is excited to be coaching and we believe he is the right fit."

Muirhead seemed especially impressed with one particular Simmons quality: "His independence of character and his resolve to stand up for what he believes in were also strong qualities that convinced us that Phil was best suited to usher the West Indies team into a new era of success."

Contrast that with what Muirhead, now the out-going CEO, is saying today: "The coach has an opinion and the board collectively had another opinion, and that had happened on more than one occasion. It has been an ongoing thing, where I think Phil, in all that he has said and done, he has not aligned… the relationships were breaking down. I think he himself had ideas for a different strategic approach, notwithstanding one already having been approved and adopted by the board. I don't think he was aligned with that."

Evidently, the "independence of character" and "resolve to stand up for what he believes in" were not so appealing to the majority of the board's directors, or the director of cricket, Richard Pybus, or the board's president, Dave Cameron.

Muirhead did not outline the differences between the board and Simmons, but the public record does show that one of the big bones of contention was who has what degree of say in the selection of players.

Simmons has always been a team player, so the pattern of public outbursts of discontent that emerged over the last 12 months meant that for him, things behind the scenes had become unbearable

As a man whose job performance was largely dependent on success on the field, Simmons naturally wanted the best players available to get those results. But in that September interview before the Sri Lanka tour, frustration spoke for Simmons when he commented on the exclusion of Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard.

"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 said.

Cameron and Pybus emerged as the principal figures the comments appeared to be directed at. Simmons would later describe a relationship that had deteriorated to pure email communication in the case of Pybus, and none at all with the board president since Simmons' comments and the subsequent WICB investigation. Not even his delivering a World T20 title in India in April was enough to melt the icy waters.

Tell-it-like-it is Simmo had struck again, speaking in public about the real state of affairs. Maybe this was another instance where he was not toeing the corporate line.

In one of his last interviews, after the Test series with India ended in farcical fashion at the Queen's Park Oval in August, Simmons also spoke about his frustration at cricket matters that were, in his opinion, not being addressed.

"There's a lot of things that I've asked for, and it's not coming to fruition. I've asked for coaches to meet twice, maybe three times a year, and discuss cricket. We need to make sure that whatever we are doing upstairs is going down to everybody. If we don't have the same objective, then we spin it up in muddles. I think that's lacking."

Simmons has always been a team player, so the pattern of public outbursts of discontent that emerged over the last 12 months meant that for him, things behind the scenes had become unbearable. To use a Caribbean expression, it was a case of "water more than flour". For Simmons, cricket was not winning.

His public comments were, strictly speaking, inappropriate. And for his own peace of mind, he should probably have quit after making them. It was always going to be difficult going after that. But the principals in the WICB had an opportunity to heal the breach by demonstrating that fixing the cricket, not fixing the coach, was their chief concern.

However, the track record of this administration, going back to the players' abandonment of the tour of India in 2014, has not reflected a spirit of genuine reconciliation or intent in problem-solving.

Those who have spoken critically of the board in some way - players and even media personalities - have become casualties.

Therefore there is a portion of the West Indian public that has been left with the view expressed by the recent head of the CARICOM (Caribbean Community) sub-committee on cricket, the prime minister of Grenada, Dr Keith Mitchell.

Commenting on Wednesday on Simmons' firing, Mitchell said: "The board has now become an extremely inflexible and autocratic unit in which power and control dominate. Cricket development and cricket performance appear to be low on the board's list of most important priorities."

So Simmons - who took over a team that was near the foot of the ICC one-day rankings but still managed this year to beat higher-ranked South Africa twice and Australia once on their way to the final of the tri-series, and who triumphed at the World T20, finds that such successes in 18 months with a team at its lowest ebb were not good enough to keep him in the job.

But it is the WICB, more than Simmons, that will have to deal with this "failure". For once more it has missed the chance to establish stability in administration through skilful man-management.

All that the Phil Simmons affair has proved, again, is that the WICB can wield the big stick. And nothing more.

Garth Wattley is a writer with the Trinidad Express