Captain Hayley Matthews and the Barbados Royals Women`s team have strengthened their squad and will be looking to rebound from their defeat to Trinbago Knight Riders in the Women Caribbean Premier League final.
The Royals were on the verge of claiming the double as they won the inaugural 6IXTY tournament before the start of the WCPL.
The Royals retained WI skipper Matthews, all-rounder Chinelle Henry and left-arm orthodox bowler Qiana Joseph. In the draft, they brought back the WI bowling pair of the chief wicket-taker and leg-spinner Afy Fletcher and medium pacer Aaliyah Alleyne.
The Barbadian team has solidified all departments with the versatility of the overseas players selected. The team is bolstered by the addition of South African all-rounder Marizanne Kapp, the Australian duo of batter Laura Harris and spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington, as well as Ireland's all-rounder Gaby Lewis.
Matthews is one of the most sought-after all-rounders in women`s cricket and is currently the WI T20Is and ODIs skipper. She was second (86 runs, five wickets) in both the most runs and wickets tables in the WCPL last year and is aiming to lead the charts after this year`s edition. Matthews' list of accolades is plentiful as she has already copped the World Cup WT20 title in 2016, the inaugural Women Premier League 2023 with Mumbai Indians – where she was named MVP, and has her eyes set on the WCPL 2023 title.
Kapp is one of the leading all-rounders, having played 94 international T20 matches, scoring 1,178 runs and taking 76 wickets. She has also been involved in the Women's Premier League (in India), Big Bash (Australia) and The Hundred (England).
Harris is an aggressive top-order batter, with the experience of playing in the top T20 leagues such as Women's Premier League, Big Bash and the Hundred.
Her Australian teammate Wellington patterned her bowling after Aussie great Shane Warne. Her accuracy will indeed give batters some issues on the turning pitches in the Caribbean.
Royals will have lots of options at the top of the innings with right-hand batter Lewis, who is also quite clever with her leg-spin.
Royals had no choice but to retain WI fast bowler Henry, who has been promoted occasionally as an opening bowler in limited-over formats. However, it was her emergence as a power-hitter in the back end of the innings which has cemented her position as a genuine allrounder. The 27-year-old Jamaican has already notched nine years of international cricket experience and always exerts vibrant energy in the field.
The other retained player, Joseph, is a young and upcoming St Lucian all-rounder who bowls left-arm orthodox and was amongst the runs last year in the tournament. She scored 41 runs in three innings, with a strike rate of 141.37, the highest in the tournament.
Fletcher has been one of the leading wicket-takers for WI since her debut 15 years ago in both WODIs and WT20Is. The Grenadian has bamboozled batters all over the world, snatching 136 wickets in the limited-overs formats. Alleyne has been a regular member of the WI team and performs commendably, whenever she is given an opportunity to bat or bowl.
Wicket-keeper/batter Rashada Williams has been a regular with the WI team after making her debut just over two years ago. In the recent home series against Ireland in June, Williams partnered with skipper Matthews at the top of the innings. Veteran middle-order batter and part-time wicketkeeper Chadeon Nation will provide safety behind the stumps if called upon, but more importantly, can provide the much-needed runs in the middle-order position.
Also included in the squad are young pacer Jannillea Glasgow from Antigua and Jamaican off-spinner Vanessa Watts. Tishan Holder and Jahzara Claxton are the emerging players.
The Royals women will face Guyana Amazon Warriors on August 31 at their home ground, the Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados.
Hayley Matthews, Chinelle Henry, Qiana Joseph, Marizanne Kapp, Laura Harris, Amanda-Jade Wellington, Gaby Lewis, Afy Fletcher, Aaliyah Alleyne, Rashada Williams, Jannillea Glasgow, Chedean Nation, Vanessa Watts, Tishan Holder (emerging), Jahzara Claxton (emerging).