Phil Simmons accepts West Indies job after quitting Ireland

Ireland coach Phil Simmons
Phil Simmons guided Ireland to six successive ICC global tournaments

Ireland coach Phil Simmons has accepted an offer to take charge of his native West Indies after the conclusion of the current World Cup.

A Cricket Ireland statement on Friday confirmed the Trinidadian's departure after eight years in the role.

"I'll always be eternally grateful for the opportunity given to me by Cricket Ireland," said Simmons, 51.

"It was a very difficult decision to leave but I couldn't turn down the opportunity to coach my home team."

His decision means he will be in charge of the West Indies for next month's Test series against England in the Caribbean as he begins a three-year contract.

Stuart Williams has been in temporary charge of the Windies after they parted company with Ottis Gibson last August.

Phil Simmons factfile
Born, 18 April, 1963 in Arima, Trinidad & Tobago
Makes West Indies Test debut against India, January 1988
Plays 26th and final Test against Pakistan in November, 1997
143 one-day appearances for the West Indies
Coached Zimbabwe from 2004-5
Appointed Ireland coach 2007
Guided Ireland to six successive ICC global tournaments
Ireland also won 11 Associate competitions during his tenure

Simmons, who played 26 Tests from 1988 until 1997, has been linked with the West Indies job on a number of previous occasions.

His stock has risen further over the last month given Ireland's impressive performances at the World Cup.

Since replacing Adi Birrell after the 2007 World Cup, Simmons has guided Ireland to the 2011 and 2015 tournaments and earned wins over Test nations England, the West Indies and Zimbabwe.

Ireland also defeated the West Indies in their opening World Cup game in Nelson last month but missed out on a quarter-final spot on run-rate despite further group victories over the United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe.

During his tenure, Simmons guided his side to 11 trophies contested by associate countries.

The Trinidadian said that he would cherish his "eight wonderful years" in the Ireland role.

Ireland's cricketers returned to Dublin on St Patrick's Day

"The wins in the World Cups over full members were all special as we showed the world just what Irish cricket is capable of," added Simmons, who also spoke of his partnership with Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom.

Deutrom paid tribute to the West Indian's achievements with Ireland as well as his character.

"His warmth and strength of values endeared him to everyone here," said the Cricket Ireland chief.

"Over the last eight years, Phil has built upon Adi's legacy by overseeing our qualification for every major ICC event."

Ireland captain William Porterfield said Simmons had been a "towering presence not just in Irish cricket but across the world".

"While it's sad to be losing him at this time, everyone in the squad understands his reasons for wanting to coach his home country," added Porterfield.

West Indies Cricket Board chief executive Michael Muirhead said that they had been impressed with Simmons's "understandings of the current realities of West Indies cricket".

"Phil has a proven ability to develop players while cultivating great team spirit, and a winning culture," said the WICB chief.

Cricket Ireland say their search for a new coach will begin immediately.

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