PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Recuperating West Indies opener Lendl Simmons is champing at the bit ahead of the upcoming Caribbean Premier League campaign, and says he expects to be fit and ready to lead the batting for his new franchise St Kitts and Nevis Patriots.
The 31-year-old right-hander limped out of the just concluded Indian Premier League with a back injury which has sidelined him since but said his rehabilitation had progressed as planned, and he was now close to full recovery.
“Physically I feel as though my back is getting stronger each day and I can’t wait to get back playing because it can be frustrating watching on from the sidelines,” the Trinidadian said.
“But I have stepped up my rehab recently and I’m looking forward to getting 100 percent fit.”
Simmons has represented Guyana Amazon Warriors from the tournament’s inception, and his aggressive batting has been key to their success.
In the first year, he gathered 266 runs at an average of 33 to help Amazon Warriors reach the final where they lost to Jamaica Tallawahs. He topped the charts the following year with an astonishing 446 runs at an average of 49, to help the Georgetown-based franchise into the final again where they went down to Barbados Tridents.
And last year, he scored 317 runs at an average of 39 with three half-centuries to again carry Amazon Warriors’ batting.
His switch to Patriots will see him join forces with the likes of South African star Faf du Plessis and Australian Brad Hodge, and Simmons said he was looking forward to the partnership.
“We have a good, well-balanced team this year and there’s a lot of experienced and promising players on paper,” Simmons said.
“But it’s about how we perform and I think we can lean on the experience of the likes of Faf and Brad Hodge, who have played a lot of T20 cricket, to bring the squad together and create a strong environment.”
Du Plessis will lead Patriots this year and Simmons was quick to hail his leadership qualities.
“Faf is an outstanding player, a world-class talent who will relish the captaincy this year. What I like about Faf is that he reads the game well and bats intelligently according to each situation,” he pointed out.
“There’s a lot of responsibility attached to being captain, because we have a passionate St. Kitts & Nevis public who will want to see the team progress. But he’ll be used to that having led the Proteas at international level.”
The CPL runs from June 29 to August 7 and will feature Amazon Warriors, Patriots, Tallawahs, Tridents, St Lucia Zouks and title-holders Trinbago Knight Riders.