HomeFeature2016 Final Was Not a Fluke: Hayley Matthews' All Round Effort Played...

2016 Final Was Not a Fluke: Hayley Matthews’ All Round Effort Played Crucial Role in West Indies Victories

It was an evening in early  April at Eden Gardens in 2016. Everything was well set for the Men’s T-20 World Cup Final at the iconic stadium. Despite the remorse that India had lost the semi-final due to Marlon Samuels’s special, the cricket lovers started to fill up their seats. That night the spectators got the as they say ‘paisa wasool’ game. West Indies became the T-20 World Cup Champion and one name became the household that night. People remembered ‘the name’, as Ian Bishop said during the game, Carlos Braithwaite. The Caribbean giant hit 4 sixes in 4 balls against Ben Stokes in the final over of the match. 2016 was West Indies’s year. After winning the U-19 Men ODI World Cup they won the T-20 World Cup too.

But, the few spectators who came a bit early for the men’s final, got the chance to watch another final. And they too witnessed another star to born in the final. An 18-year-old girl thrashed the defending champion around the park. She kept the Australian attack at their toes, chasing 149. A captain, of the stature of Meg Lanning, the defending champion, was taken aback. After a couple of quiet overs, Mathews hit veteran seamer, Rene Farrell, for a couple of boundaries through mid-wicket and square leg.

Next over, that 18-year-old girl from Barbados danced down the track to hit Schutt over mid-wicket for a six. That was not a fluke. Ellyse Perry came to bowl the next over. The first ball was much more on a fuller length and Matthews once again came down the wicket and hit a humongous six over Perry’s head. 16 runs came from the over, as Taylor hit a couple of boundaries. 45 runs came from the power play and West Indies was well set for the chase.

Left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen who went for only 12 in her 3 overs felt the wrath of Matthews. A six, over deep mid-wicket, followed by a boundary through point took the teenager to her half-century in 34 balls. An opening partnership of 120 runs in 93 balls was broken when Matthews fell to leg spinner Kirsten Beams. But her 66 from 45 balls broke the backbone of the Aussie side. West Indies went on to win the match by 8 wickets with three balls to spare. West Indies Women had their first T-20 World Cup. And that all-rounder who took on the defending champion with the audacity of youth became the player of the match in the final.

“That is a memory I will never forget,” Matthews said. “Bringing back home the trophy meant so much to us. It was our first World Cup.”

But it was not the first time Hayley Matthews was coming to fame. Coming from Harrison College, a secondary school in Bridgetown known for producing former Olympic 100m bronze medallist Obadele Thompson and ex-West Indies left-arm fast bowler Ian Bradshaw she juggled between cricket and track and field, while she made her ODI debut at the age of 16,- she won a gold medal for the javelin at the 2015 CARIFTA Games. In her first ODI series against Australia, she hit 3 consecutive half-centuries against a dominant Australian bowling attack in 2014.  55 was followed by an 89, chasing 257, and she ended the series with a 60. But those innings in the top of the order were not sufficient for her side to survive a clean sweep.

Hayley Matthews
West Indies’ Hayley Matthews plays a shot against Australia. (Image: Getty)

These innings led to her inclusion in the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League, sought after by Hobart Hurricanes as one of their overseas players; her standout performance in the competition was a 51-ball 77 against Melbourne Stars, but more importantly, she worked with coach Julia Price and gained invaluable experience against international opponents.

Her form went downwards after her first series till her first century. It came more than two years after her fourth ODI 50. 117 against South Africa in 2018  took the team total to 292. After that, she has made 50 or more only seven times in the 58 innings that followed. More recently, after an unbeaten hundred against Pakistan at home last year, she scored only 12 runs in five innings as an opener, following which she was pushed down in the order.

Prior to the opening game against the host New Zealand, Courtney Walsh informed Matthews that she has been promoted to open the innings.  Rashada Williams suffered a concussion and Matthews grabbed the opportunity with both hands. She knew that she have a lot of responsibility which will only help her to be able to find her focus. She loved being a role model and someone that other players can look up to.

In the opening match in the World Cup, Pivotal to West Indies’ total of 259 – their third-highest score in a 50-over world tournament – was Matthews’ three-fifty stands in the middle-order – with Taylor, Shemaine Campbelle, and Chedean Nation. Along the way, she struck 17 boundaries, with a solitary six, measuring 75 meters, against Sophie Devine. Her 119 from 128 balls not only set the tone of the World Cup set but at the same time put the side on the upper hand against the host. Despite not opening the batting for a couple of matches, she took her time in the middle, initially.  As the wicket was friendly for batting she was able to capitalize without trying too much.

She came to bowl in the 12th over. New Zealand despite losing Bates was matching the run rate and the West Indies skipper turned to Matthews. After the pretty wide ball to Devine, she put one on the stumps to Kerr from outside off. Kerr had been in tremendous form in the India series and became a stalwart in the NZ batting lineup. Kerr goes back to cover the stumps and tried and work this to the leg, but she misses the trajectory and line both, struck right in front of the stumps and the umpire gives her out. Later she picked up the wicket of Halliday. Though Dottin, who came to bowl in the final over, her first time into the attack in the entire match, defended 6 runs, Matthews became the player of the match for her all-around effort.

READ MORE: CWC22: India Suffered Another Set Back, Youngsters’ Silver-linings Among The Worries

The next match was against England, the defending champion. Along with Dottin, she put a strong partnership of 81 runs in 20 overs for the opening stand. Her 58 ball 45 was crafted with 4 boundaries and 2 sixes. It’s the opening stand upon which Shemaine Campbelle and Nation build their innings. West Indies went to put up a respectable total of 225. Campbelle hit her first half-century in almost a decade.

In the last couple of years, she has been giving focused a lot on bowling off-spin in certain situations. She worked on her action, variations, and control. Being a tall girl, she uses her height to get the bounce from the pitch. When brought in the attack, she picked up two valuable wickets of England skipper Heather Knight and vice-captain, Nat Sciver. Both of them have a reputation for being the best batter against spinners. Still, Matthews got better of them. Comming to bowl in the 12th over she got rid of Knight who has batting on 5. Her third ball of the over, pitched on a good length, outside off, and drifted away. Enough to kiss the outside edge. Though Campbelle went for a stumping appeal, ultra edge confirmed a spike, and Knight was judged caught behind.

Nat Sciver who had hit a century against Australia in their opening match was next to fall to Matthews. The ball was well flighted and Sciver decided to go after it on one knee. It came right off the bottom of the bat and the fielder took a simple catch at around throat height. Sciver fell for 5.

She did not even get frustrated after two consecutive games against India and Australia. In the match against India, while she took a blinder at slip to remove Deepti Sharma, that did not stop India to go past 300 runs mark. Chasing a mammoth total Dottin and Matthews put up a hundred-run stand for the first wicket in just 12 overs. Though Indian spinners break the shackle to win the match by a huge margin, she held the fortress from the one end, before getting out to Sneh Rana. The fall was by then only a matter of time.

In the years between, she also developed her fielding as well. How much she has developed was evident when she took a brilliant catch to remove Deepti Sharma in the slip. To her the last three years when Windies went through a shaky period, fielding let them down. It gives her a lot of confidence. It gives the bowlers a lot of confidence as well, to be able to bowl in the right areas and understand and feel secure in the fact that someone is going take catches back there too.

Instead of panic, she believed that the rest of the games were comparatively weaker opponents and they can still sail for the Semi if they play the best cricket. She calculated the tournament well. She rightly guessed about their first four matches. Where they went on to win two close matches against England and New Zealand.

Hayley Matthews
Hayley Matthews celebrates the wicket of New Zealand’s Amelia Kerr. (Image: Getty)

Against Australia too though the target was a low one, West Indies got rid of their top order cheaply. Australia lost Heal and Meg Lanning within 10 runs. Though unbeaten 83 from Haynes dented their hope, it was Matthews who got rid of Healy in the 3rd over. Her 1/31 from 8 overs also witnessed two maiden overs. Only bowler two bowled any maiden overs, from their side. She was so the 2nd most economical bowler on their side.

Bangladesh might have been thinking about they had their chances against West Indies when they are given a target of 141. But Matthews had a different plan. How much Taylor had a faith in her off-spin was evident from the fact that she opened the bowling for West Indies repeated times. Along with Anisha and Afy Fletcher, she became one of the trusted spin bowling options for the side.  And she repaid it. Shamima Sultana was trapped in front in the 5th ball of the over. Though Bangladesh added 29 runs for the 2nd wicket, the partnership was broken by her too. Out of her 60 balls, batters failed to score runs in 50 of that.

When it looked like the partnership between Nigar Sultana and Salma Khatun was slowly but steadily taking the match away from West Indies, Mattews struck back again. In the same over, she removed Bangladesh skipper and Fahima Khatun to leave Bangladesh 85/7 in the 33rd over. Matthew’s 4/15 in 1o overs earned her the player of the match award. West Indies went on to win the match by 4 runs.  In the rain-curtailed match against Pakistan, she was the highest scorer for her side with 27.  Mathews ended her this year’s World Cup journey with 49 balls 34 at no 3, chasing a mammoth total of 306 against Australia in the semifinal.

READ MORE: CWC22: Alyssa Healy And Bowlers Steer Australia To Their Record 7th World Cup Title

Matthews knows that inconsistency has been an area of concern for her. It is the reason that she has been moved up and down the order. Having debuted in ODIs in 2014, she made three fifties in her first three matches, but she has made 50 or more only seven times in the 58 innings that followed. More recently, after an unbeaten 100 against Pakistan at home last year, she scored only 12 runs in five innings as an opener. She also knows that she has yet to match the expectations of many. And being one of the senior members of the side she needs to play her role in the side wall, along with setting up an example.

 With an undying passion to do better, she feels that she has made improvements in the last couple of years and will continue to do so. Such words and actual performances from an older, obviously much wiser, Matthews are suggestive of her ever-increasing maturity.

Hopefully, such words are also indicative of Matthews’ realization and complete appreciation of the role she has to play, as a senior member of the West Indies team in setting the most worthy examples for her fellow teammates to follow. The manner in which she has spoken during her post-match interviews at the current World Cup certainly suggests as much.

The eloquence that Matthews has demonstrated during such interviews is also indicative of her impressive knowledge and understanding of the requirements of white-ball cricket. Very early in her international career, she had been appointed as the West Indies Women’s team vice-captain only to be subsequently stripped of the position, as a consequence of an act of indiscipline on her part. 260 runs and 10 wickets in a single World Cup Campaign, Matthews became the only third player to do so. Her all-round performance turned the close matches in favour of the side and she finally came out of the shadow of her 2016 heroics.



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