Zara continues to bowl them over on the wicket – men or women

ROYTON cricketer Zara Matthews is silencing people by taking wickets after starring for both men’s and women’s cricket teams.

Now she has one aim in her mind, making it to men’s first XI level.The 16-year-old has had a fine 2019 campaign as she has played a big role in four sides – Heyside CC’s second team, Royton CC’s Under-17s, Didsbury women’s open age side and Lancashire’s U17 girls.

For Heyside and Royton she has been taking on men and boys as there is no gender barrier and often she has been the one who has sent batsmen back to the pavilion.

“I’ve actually not taken as many wickets as I hopes I would,” leg spinner Zara complained.

“But I’ve kept the run rate down, which is a good thing.

“When I take a man’s wicket, it’s a really good feeling. Some think that just because I’m a girl, I’m not as good.

“But some come back to me afterwards and say, ‘That was a really good ball.’ Playing at Heyside, I’ve never really had any problems with sexism and the others in the team back me up all the way.”

It is an obvious issue but at men’s level, sexism is not as prevalent as it is when she faces boys of her own age.Zara added: “I’ve definitely had and heard sexism when I’m playing for Royton. When I’ve rocked up, others have sometimes said, ‘They’ve got a girl in their team’ and this, that and the other.

“But all that gives me more energy and I really want to get them out!”

Zara admits there are some differences between men’s and women’s cricket – not least the weight of the ball.

For Heyside and Royton, it is often a case of guiding it around as the weightier one means it comes on to the bat with more pace.

She has had success, taking 10 wickets in as many matches for Heyside, including three against Newton Heath.

For Didsbury and Lancashire, it is a case of hitting it – but she has had plenty of success.

Despite facing women in their 30s or 40s, which can lead to grumbles, Zara has helped lift the Cheshire Women’s Cricket League title.

With the ball, she hit the headlines when she took a record haul of seven wickets for just four runs!
And at Lancashire, she appeared in the National T20 final against Kent.

“I open the bowling for both, which is a real honour,” added Zara, whose grandmother Audrey Hudson played for Lancashire and whose brother Leo currently plays for Heyside’s first team.

“And at Lancashire, I’m coached by Gary Keedy, who is one of my cricketing heroes and also Katherine Brunt, whose personality is a lot like mine.”

Zara amazingly started playing cricket at the age of five when her brother’s side found itself a player short.

But she already has a 2020 vision, stepping out for Heyside’s first team.

She said: “I’ve never been called up for Heyside firsts before but hopefully that box can be ticked off next year.”

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