Patrick Noone analyses Lendl Simmons’ return to form as TKR march on
It’s been a tough season for Lendl Simmons, despite Trinbago Knight Riders’ dominance over the rest of the CPL. The league leaders had won seven from seven without the opener making a significant contribution at any stage; such is the depth of talent in this TKR squad that they were able to carry the underperforming Simmons.
Importantly though, the management stuck by him and continued to select him at the top of the order. Today, Simmons finally delivered with a 63-ball 96 that showed he is as pleasing on the eye as anyone when in full flow, propelling his side to 174, a total St Kitts & Nevis Patriots never looked like chasing.
Simmons was watchful at the start of his innings, only attacking two of his first ten balls as he struggled to find the rhythm that has been lacking for much of his CPL campaign. Once he settled, Simmons grew into his innings and took a particular liking to off-spinner Jon-Russ Jaggesar, taking him for 11 off the last over of the Powerplay to move to 30 off 20 balls.
There then followed something of a lull as the Knight Riders batted for five overs without scoring a boundary. Simmons and Darren Bravo continued to build their 130-run partnership, but the Patriots generally kept a lid on things during the middle period of the innings.
It meant Simmons found himself on 43 from 40 balls with eight overs remaining. He’d played his way in and now had a platform to go big at the back end of the innings. He pulled Rayad Emrit for six to go to 49 – one of 11 pulls that would yield 24 of his runs – before reaching 50 with a single the very next ball.
Mid-wicket and long-on were Simmons’ favourite areas and it was over the latter region that he launched Jaggesar over when the off-spinner returned to the attack. He cut him for four two balls later giving him 21 runs from his last seven balls. Simmons applied the coup de grace in the 18th over as he struck successive sixes off Alzarri Joseph to move into the 90s, giving him two sixes each against Joseph, Jaggesar and Emrit.
Simmons would ultimately fall four runs short of a deserved hundred, but this was a cathartic innings for him and a heartening one for TKR whose faith in their misfiring opener was rewarded. There have not been many weak points in the Knight Riders machine during this CPL and it’s ominous for the rest of the league that they look to have addressed one of the few that remained.
For the Patriots, it was yet another defeat and they look to be going down with little more than a whimper in a chastening season for the franchise. Once again, their muddled thinking was exemplified by the inclusion of Imran Khan in the XI only for him to not bowl a single over, despite him being one of the Patriots’ better performers this season. What’s more, Simmons has twice been dismissed by leg-spin this season and scores far slower against it than off-spin, yet the Patriots persisted with Jaggesar rather than throw the ball to the leg-spinner.
These two teams meet again for their final matches on Sunday, by which time the Knight Riders could be chasing a perfect 10 while the Patriots will most likely be playing for pride.
Patrick Noone is a CricViz analyst