Barbadian opener Hayley Matthews says notching her maiden international hundred on home soil was an “unbelievable” feeling and hopes the achievement can be the first of several triple figure scores.
The 20-year-old made 117 from 146 balls in Saturday’s final One-Day International against South Africa, which laid the platform for West Indies’ 115-run victory and a share of the three-match series.
“It’s definitely an honour for me. It was one of my goals coming here. Kensington Oval is a ground with so much history,” the affable Matthews said.
“So many wonderful things have happened here in cricket and to be able to [score a hundred] in front of my friends and family at some place where I grew up, was unbelievable for me.
“My dad always tells me that hundreds are things that you have to get over the line for the first one and then once you do, then hopefully they can keep coming, so for me it’s a matter of relief getting that first one and like he keeps telling me, hopefully they can keep coming.”
Matthews was always earmarked for a special career ever since making her debut for the regional side as a 16-year-old in a Twenty20 International against New Zealand.
She made her ODI debut later that year against Australia, scoring a half-century in her first outing and has been one of the mainstays of the Windies side since then.
Her 66 in the final of the T20 World Cup in India two years ago which helped West Indies to their maiden title remains one of her most memorable innings but she said Saturday’s achievement ranked alongside that performance.
“I think for me they were both very important, they were both very crucial innings,” Matthews pointed out.
“First of all, the World Cup final was very important to me and seeing the team home with that knock but then doing it here in front of the home crowd, being able to do it in front of so much family and so many friends, I think was really important for me.
“It was always a goal for me and definitely an honour that I could come home and reach one of my very big goals.”
Most critically, Matthews’ hundred helped West Indies claw their way back into a series which they trailed after losing the opening game by 40 runs last Sunday.
She said despite that setback, the team had remained focussed.
“Our goal when we came here to play against South Africa was to win all three games. Unfortunately we didn’t win the first one and rain got the second one but to be able to come back here and level the series and get another two points on the board is very important for us,” she said.
“I think for me it was the focus of the team. We knew what we had to do … we’ve been working really hard the past couple of months in Antigua training a lot so it was just a matter of executing, and I think … we were able to go out there and do that well.”
She added: “I think the wicket was very good. We knew that batting in the night would’ve been a bit harder with the ball swinging so it was good that we could win the toss. We were able to go out there and bat on a good wicket. Kudos to the groundsmen, we always have good wickets here.”