Zimbabwe, in the absence of former captain Heath Streak and most of their first-choice team, have seen a new look side frozen out of Test cricket by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
In the meantime they have been given a programme of warm-up games against 'A' sides from India and South Africa before a full Test tour of minnows Bangladesh in January.
"I believe they are showing progress. There are a lot of areas that need heavy work on. But basically all they need is time," said Simmons, a former West Indies all-rounder.
South Africa 'A' manager Oupa Nkagisang believes that, in time, the selected bunch will make the grade.
"There are definite signs of maturity there," Nkagisang said.
"Next year they will be much better. From young players with not much experience I saw a lot of talent and a lot of the right attitude. I think they will reach the required standard, but may be not quite in the time envisaged."
Two of Zimbabwe's games against India 'A' finished early on the third day. India 'A' won the first match by nine wickets and the other two by ten wickets. All three were close to margins of an innings.
Zimbabwe did manage a tight draw with South Africa 'A' in the second of their two four-day matches, after being heavily defeated in the first.
Now these youngsters are set to face the full Sri Lanka and England sides in their group matches of the ICC Trophy in England next month. They are due to have warm-up matches against Zambia and Kenya.
Cricket in the troubled African state has been torn apart since the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) sacked then skipper Streak in April after the fast bowler, now at English County Warwickshire, accused the Union of making some team selections based on race rather than merit.
When his colleagues tried but failed to get Streak reinstated they went on strike in protest.
That led the ZCU to sack a total of 15 senior players, all white, a massive loss for a country with an already small playing base.