All-rounder Hayley Matthews is hoping to make a memorable impact in her first international before her home crowd, when West Indies take on South Africa in the opening one-dayer of the three-match series in Barbados on Sunday.
The 20-year-old is very familiar with Kensington Oval – a venue where she grew up watching her father Michael Matthews play at the storied Pickwick Cricket Club – and hopes she can put on a good performance in front of her family and friends.
“It’s great to be here . . . I actually grew up watching cricket here and playing here, so it’s a wonderful feeling to play my first match here in West Indies colours,” Matthews told members of the media on Friday.
“It should be a wonderful occasion – playing with my family and friends in the crowd – and seeing the faces of so many people I know. It’s special to play in front your home crowd and it would be good to get a big crowd to come and see us start the series against South Africa.”
She added: “It’s no added pressure, it’s a matter of using the occasion as motivation to do something extra special in front of home fans. They’re a few of us from here in Barbados in the team for this series, so we all use it as motivation.”
Matthews made her international debut back in September, 2014 and has so far played 36 ODIs and 29 T20s. Her finest hour came in the 2016 ICC Women’s World T20 in India when she took the Player-of-the-Match award in the final against Australia.
A classy right-hander, Matthews has scored four ODI half-centuries and taken 35 wickets with her steady off-spin, and is eyeing success in both departments over the next week.
“As an all-rounder I will be looking to perform with bat and ball. I would like to get a hundred, or maybe even two or three in front of the home crowd. With the ball I would like to just contribute and keep things tight,” Matthews noted.
The ODI Series will form part of the ICC Women’s Championship which is the basis of qualification for the 2021 ICC Women’s World Cup in New Zealand.
West Indies have had mixed results so far and lie sixth on six points while South Africa are seventh in the eight-team standings on four points.
Both teams will use the five-match Twenty20 series which follows immediately after the one-dayers, as a warm-up to the Women’s T20 World Cup from November 9-24 in Guyana, St Lucia and Antigua.
Matthews said West Indies entered the series with the edge but would need to play consistently in order to emerge on top.
“South Africa is a very good team. Last time we played them in South Africa we were able to get a 2-1 victory so we’re hoping now that we’re playing on home soil – we know the pitches here better than anyone else. Hopefully we can get a 3-0 victory in the ODI series and go up in the Championship,” she pointed out.
“I think everything has been going pretty well for us over the past few months. We have been working really hard and going back to basics.
“We’ve really been pushing hard and putting in the work covering all aspects of our game, bowling, batting and fielding, so I have no doubt that we have the ability to go out there and do what we need to. It’s just about executing now.”
She continued: “Biggest challenge is being consistent and being able to go out there and execute each and every game.”