‘Brave’ Darcie Brown impresses Australia coach after stopping Hayley Matthews

Coach Shelley Nitschke has lauded Darcie Brown‘s bravery in taking the crucial wicket of Hayley Matthews that propelled Australia to a T20I series defeat of West Indies.

Matthews’ batting had been the talk of the white-ball series heading into the deciding third match in Brisbane on Thursday night.

She scored an unbeaten 99 in a losing effort in the first T20I at North Sydney Oval before belting 132 runs from 64 balls and guiding the visitors to a surprise seven-wicket win at the same venue in the second.

Matthews threatened to drag the visitors over the line again at Allan Border Field, storming into the 70s as the innings passed its halfway point.

The run-rate hovered below 10 as the opener smacked Brown for four on consecutive deliveries, but she was caught out when the 20-year-old changed her pace up later in the 11th over.

Matthews hit a slower ball to Phoebe Litchfield at cover and from there the Australians made light work of the remaining West Indies batters, sealing both a 47-run win and a series victory.

But it could have been a different story if not for Brown, who finished with a career-best 3 for 20, backing herself to try a slow delivery.

“To see her use it quite a lot last night I think was excellent,” Nitschke said. “It just shows the development in her thinking and the mindset and the bravery to do that in a pressure moment.

“I’m just happy the opportunity was there, we needed to try something, and she took it and was brave enough to do it. That’s the sort of thing that we want to encourage.”

Nitschke conceded a failure to take opportunities had cost Australia when Matthews was running amok in the second T20I.

Megan Schutt dropped her on 30 in that game before Litchfield gave her another life on 87.

“We reflected quite honestly and quite well and had a decent discussion about where we went wrong [in the second T20I],” Nitschke said. “We kind of didn’t get our lines right to Hayley and gave her her arms. Then when the chances did present, we didn’t take them. But I think we really tightened up last night.”

Jess Jonassen was dropped in favour of Kim Garth for the third T20I despite taking Matthews’ wicket in the previous match.

But the veteran spinner is in line to return for the three-match ODI series that begins at Allan Border Field on Sunday.

“JJ has been a massive part of this side and still is. She was unlucky to get squeezed out,” Nitschke said. “We probably just felt like we needed to change something with our bowling department, try something new.

“But we certainly know she’s got the skills when she’s on top of her game to be able to deliver at any time throughout the three phases of a 50-over game.”

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