~ The 24-year-old all-rounder, whose team will start their Women’s CPL campaign later today against TKR, has also revealed that she’s followed the Rajasthan Royals because of her good friend Jofra Archer ~

National, 31 August 2022: High on confidence after leading her Barbados Royals team to win the inaugural season of THE 6IXTY, all-rounder Hayley Matthews’ excitement is palpable. “Obviously it has been so exciting for everyone. The girls went out and played some great cricket all tournament long, so I think this win has given everyone a lot of confidence and belief going into the Women’s CPL.”

Commenting on the 6IXTY, she said, “It was a fun format to play in with all the new rules which brought new excitement. It seems really fast from the outside, but I feel you still have time to set yourself at the crease, even in the first couple of overs. It's definitely a format that could grow a lot in the coming years.”

From one inaugural season to the next, Matthews’ Barbados Royals team will kick-start their Women’s CPL campaign against Trinbago Knight Riders, and the 25-year-old believes there’s no need for her team to change their approach much. “I think for us, it has been about taking it one game at a time. We want to focus on our skills and on the aspects which are under our control. We did have a tough start to the 6IXTY, but turned it around with some amazing performances, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of that during the WCPL.”

Looking forward to the first game, Matthews said, “We have to take this first game into our stride and given it’s a slightly longer format, I think it suits us even better. The key will be the depth that we have in our batting and bowling departments. It is going to be really competitive, and we are going to bank on each and every player.”

Leadership has always come naturally to Hayley, having tasted captaincy at the age of just 11 when she led a boys’ team in primary school. The enigmatic all-rounder has since molded her personality to learn from the best and implement the good things as a captain herself. “I started captaincy very early in my life, and at the same time though, I was given the opportunity to play high level cricket and start learning from such a young age. I think coming into the Windies team at 16, under players like Stafanie Taylor, Merissa Aguilleira, Deandra Dottin, Shakera Selman really gave me an opportunity to learn so much,” said the current West Indies and Barbados Royals captain.

Expressing her thoughts on captaining the Barbados Royals, she said, “Representing Barbados is always a massive honour for me, and to be part of one of biggest cricket franchises in the world - the Royals, makes me even prouder. I’m really looking forward to leading the team in this year’s Women’s CPL, and hopefully for many years to come,” she added.

Matthews first came into the limelight when she played a career-defining innings of 66 off 45 balls in the Final to help West Indies lift the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in 2016 at the age of just 18. “I think it's still a bit fuzzy actually, I think because I was so young (laughs). Everything was so free-willed. We just went out there and played freely. It was do-or-die and I knew it was one of those days where it could either go your way or might not, so I took my chances and it was pretty amazing in the end. Definitely one of those days that I will cherish forever.”

A proper Royal connection for Hayley comes in the form of his good friend and former Rajasthan Royals all-rounder Jofra Archer. Recollecting one of her favourite memories of Archer, she said, “When I was probably about 14-15 years old representing Harrison College, I came up against Jofra, who was playing for his Christ Church Foundation school side. He was opening the bowling from one end, along with West Indies U19 opening bowler Jerome Jones, who was bowling from the other end. So, it was pretty fiery to experience as a 15-year-old with both pacers coming in at you at 80-85 miles an hour. But the good thing for me was that Jofra was my friend, so he kept it quite full and straight actually, but Jerome’s deliveries were just whizzing past my neck.”

“When I look back at it all now, I think these are the experiences which have helped me become the player that I am today. But in the end I think Jof did get me LBW or bowled (bursts into a laugh).”

Asked if she would like to play for the Royals’ franchise in the hugely anticipated Women’s IPL as well, Hayley said, “For sure, I would love to play for the Royals. I’ve experienced an amazing atmosphere with the working group present at the franchise, and they are always very supportive of the girls. Their investment in women's cricket is appreciable, and I think such investments being made in the right places is what our game needs. Rajasthan Royals have also been my favourites because of Jofra, Oshane Thomas and Obed McCoy. Hence, I would love to continue being a part of the Royals family, and hopefully I can get to the stadiums donning pink at the women’s IPL next year.”

Signing off by revealing a chat she had with BR’s men’s captain David Miller, Matthews expressed, “Both of us actually play for Welsh Fire in The Hundred together, so we did have a chat about joining up with the Royals. He’s told me about the amazing culture at the franchise and I wished him well for his CPL season that he’s so excited to be a part of.”

The Barbados Royals Women's Team take on Trinbago Knight Riders in their first match of Women's CPL season later today at Warner Park in Basseterre in St Kitts, at 15.00hrs local time / 00.30am IST (+1).