In reality, it is more than just a couple. West Indies have lost to New Zealand, England, South Africa and India in the last six months, all by big margins, and talk of the decline of their women’s team remains rife. For Matthews that analysis needs contextualising. “We had a long run of games against opposition that were all ranked higher than us. And at the same time, we suffered so many injuries in every match. We were almost struggling for players.”
That’s when Matthews showed her hand. She brought herself back on in the 12th over and even though it began expensively with a no-ball six, it seemed to have a calming effect on the side. In the next over, Shamilia Connell had Olga Prendergast caught at extra cover and triggered an Ireland collapse. They lost 8 for 46 and failed to reach 150, which would have been a competitive score, and West Indies believed the game was theirs to win. “If we could restrict them to under 140, we knew we’d be in a pretty good position,” Matthews said.
Exactly the same could be said about Matthews herself, although not without a little bit of luck. She was dropped on 8 at backward point and then called her ball-watching partner Rashada Williams through for a run that ended up in her dismissal. West Indies could have unravelled from there, and many times afterwards, but Matthews kept her cool. “We knew if we could carry one set batter to the end, we could get there,” she said.
But it was only right at the end, when two more chances had been put down and another run-out effected, in the final over, that West Indies scraped over the line. It was error-ridden and unconvincing but that doesn’t matter to Matthews. “It’s good to get that win on the board,” she said. “Some people may say we should have won more convincingly against Ireland – not taking away from them but our standards are pretty high – but for us it’s about getting that first win. In sport, once you get the first win, it gets a bit easier to get the second and the third.”
West Indies are now targeting a second win, over Pakistan on Sunday, to end the tournament with the knowledge that things have not slipped as severely as the statistics since the 2016 win suggests. “We’ve just got to keep believing. We knew England and India would be a challenge and these last two games would be a real test of where we are as a team,” Matthews said. “These two games are the two most important for us to leave this World Cup with some pride and some respect.”
(With Inputs from ESPN)
#Relieved #Hayley #Matthews #breaks #West #Indies #cycle #woe