Newly-appointed West Indies skipper Hayley Matthews says the shock retirement of Deandra Dottin during the Commonwealth Games last month has created an opportunity for a younger player to stand up and be counted.
Speaking on a new episode of ICC's 100% Cricket podcast with Isa Guha and New Zealand off-spinner Frankie Mackay, Matthews discussed the Dottin situation in detail and gave terrific insight into a variety of topics.
Dottin announced her retirement from international cricket for West Indies while on national duty with Barbados during CWG 2022.
The decision came as a shock to the cricket community, and Mathews revealed that, despite having conversations with Dottin on her retirement, the timing of the announcement still surprised her.
"Deandra and I had some conversations prior where she may have mentioned it,” said Mathews. “Maybe the timing of that exactly was a bit of a shock.
“But at the same time, I feel it was something that Deandra was ready for. I support her one hundred percent."
Matthews acknowledged that it was a tough pill to swallow for a new captain (she was appointed captain in June).
"It's quite difficult to start off as a captain and missing out on one of your best players,” she said.
“But at the same time, it'd give an opportunity to one of the other girls coming through the system, now being able to get a spot in the team.”
Matthews also hailed “game-changer” Dottin for her contribution to West Indies cricket.
"I am so thankful to Deandra for everything she has done for West Indies cricket,” she said.
“A game-changer, not only for the West Indies but in the world for how she played and how she carried herself out on the field. The entire cricketing world is grateful to Deandra for what she has done.”
Matthews got a taste of captaincy during the Commonwealth Games 2022 where she led Barbados.
And despite the side bowing out of tournament in the group stage, Matthews appreciated the education the tournament provided her.
"It was a really good experience. Firstly, the support I got from the team was amazing, which is a great thing especially early on in your captaincy days,” said Mathews. “I have definitely learned a lot during the Commonwealth Games.”
She said her captaincy style revolved around putting the onus on the players to express themselves, and importantly, have fun.
"I always encourage having as much fun. I'm obviously still taking it very seriously, but as West Indians, when we do go out there and enjoy it we play our best cricket,” she said.
“So I'd try to definitely encourage the girls going out on the field each and every time to enjoy themselves in what they are doing.”
The way forward
West Indies reached the semi-finals of the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup 2022 in New Zealand, losing to eventual champions Australia.
Matthews believes West Indies can only improve if they continue playing a fearless brand of cricket.
"When you look around the world and see the best teams in the world playing, they're really fearless,” said Matthews.
"That's because they know that they definitely have all the support behind them. I just think that it's a case where as a West Indian team, we need to obviously go out there and play a fearless brand of cricket."
In building such an approach, the team will have to weather a few defeats but Matthews is determined that wouldn’t be a deterrent to committing to an aggressive game plan.
"(We must) really back ourselves, really go hard and it might come down to a case where we end up losing some games,” she said.
“Maybe a bit worse than we want to but the thing about it is if we go out there and really give it our all, really play fearlessly, I feel it's going to be a case where it's also going to win us a lot more games as well.”
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