Photo Credit: Cricket West Indies
Michael Matthews has a smile etched on his face, a look of contentment that he explained when he saw his daughter Hayley pick up a cricket bat for the first time at the age of five. Now at 24 years old, Hayley is captain of the West Indies Women’s team and will be leading the Maroon Warriors for the first time at the Kensington Oval in her native Barbados, as they take on England Women in four T20 Internationals.
Admittedly a little nervous, she said:
“It’s really exciting, playing in Barbados on a whole is quite special. I love coming back to Kensington Oval but being able to lead the team now, I’m looking forward to it in front family and friends.”
The last time Matthews played a series in Barbados she scored her maiden One-Day International century and became the youngest West Indies player to reach triple figures at home. She added:
“Just playing at Kensington Oval is special… It makes me feel at home and comfortable. I’ve trained here since I was probably 10 or eleven, but I’ve been around watching my dad play here since I was around seven years old.”
Michael expressed his pride in Hayley’s captaincy appointment and talent.
“I remember when Hayley was 10, she told me she wanted to play cricket for the West Indies… and at some point, she would like to captain the West Indies.”
A phone call to Michael was the first thing she did on receiving the captaincy offer, “Dad, they’ve spoken to me and I’m the new West Indies captain, what do you think?” were her first words during that call and Michael reminded her that this was an opportunity that cannot be refused.
Michael himself was an outstanding club cricketer for Pickwick and Carlton in the topflight league in Barbados, where he played alongside Desmond Haynes, Vasbert Drakes and Tino Best, and in recent years Shai Hope. He also represented Barbados in the annual Under19 tournament in the 1980s as a top order batsman and slow bowler.
The paternal pride is evident when he speaks of Hayley and as her number one supporter and noted he will be by her side or a phone call away as her dad or her fiercest critic, as Hayley navigates her journey through West Indies Women’s captaincy and her cricket career.