Matthews hopes her success encourages young women to play cricket in Cairbbean
West Indies star Hayley Matthews hopes that her success on the cricket field can help persuade more young women in the Caribbean to see themselves forging a career in the game.
The 21-year-old off-spinner and opening batter, currently competing for Loughborough Lightning in the Kia Super League, grew up playing in boys’ teams in her native Barbados.
Having been picked for Barbados Under-19s before she was even 10 years old, she made her debut for West Indies Women when she was 16 and broke into the headlines when she smashed 66 off 45 balls to help West Indies defeat favourites Australia in Kolkata to win the 2016 Women’s World Twenty20.
Nowadays, she has become one of a new breed of globetrotting stars, turning out in tournaments on different continents.
This is her third season in the KSL, having previously represented Lancashire Thunder and Southern Vipers, and she has also enjoyed two campaigns in the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia with Hobart Hurricanes and played for Velocity in the women’s event that was trialled during the latest edition of the Indian Premier League.
She has seen women’s cricket in the West Indies make massive progress and would like to see more girls from her background taking up the sport.
“It is a lot different from when I came in at 16 five years ago to how it is now, with the increasing professionalism,” she said.
“Seeing how women players have evolved and developed over the years has been really fantastic.
“Since our World Cup win three years ago interest in cricket among West Indian girls has got a lot bigger.
“In all the nations and all the islands you see a lot more girls playing cricket now, even in the school system, playing alongside the boys and it is really healthy to see.
“If we as West Indies players can keep up with the good performances it will motivate more young girls to start playing.”
Sell-out crowds when West Indies hosted the Women’s World T20 last autumn reflected the newly-kindled interest in the women’s game and Matthews wants to see every effort made to ensure talented players on the Caribbean islands are given every opportunity to blossom.
“The islands don’t have very big populations so there are not that many kids to choose from, so when you get two or three good girls coming through you have to do your best to keep them interested,” she said.
Matthews is a talented athlete in other fields, apart from cricket. She represented Barbados in the javelin at the CARIFTA Games - an annual event open to members of the Caribbean Free Trade Association - winning silver medals in 2013 and 2014 and gold in 2015.
She decided cricket was where she wanted to concentrate her energy and while track and field is a big lure for many gifted sportswomen in the Caribbean she believes cricket can be an alternative pathway.
“For me track and field was something I was good at, whereas cricket was something I really loved so there was never a question over what I wanted to do,” she said.
The decision paid off handsomely. Following her 2016 World Twenty20 heroics.
“A lot of girls back home look at track and field as a career. They can get a college scholarship in the USA and parents push that a lot as well,” she said.
“But you can now make a profession and a career out of women’s cricket. I think a lot more people are starting to see that and realise it as well.”