Hartley looking to start T20 campaign with victory over Thunder's local rivals
Alex Hartley has her eyes firmly set on a T20 victory over local rivals Northern Diamonds this weekend. But the Thunder captain says she would love to have a crack at them with the red ball too.
Hartley has returned to Thunder duty after commentating for BBC Test Match Special on England’s enthralling four-day Test draw with India at Bristol, which finished on Saturday.
The World Cup winning left-arm spinner is all in favour of more Test cricket, with that fixture being only England’s fourth since August 2015.
But she is also keen to see longer format games introduced at domestic level, albeit accepting it would be tough for the eight regions to play multiple games per year whilst only five players in each squad are full-time professionals.
“I would 100 percent be in favour of playing a one-off red ball game against your rivals each year,” said Hartley.
“So Thunder would play Diamonds, Storm v Vipers, Sparks v Lightning, etc. I think that would be class, and the girls would love the opportunity.
“It will be hard given not all girls are contracted, and playing more Test cricket should be the priority. Playing more multi-format series as well. I think they really work.
“But there’s no reason why we can’t be playing red ball cricket at domestic level in a couple of years.
“I saw Central Sparks captain Eve Jones say last week, ‘Why don’t we play a game next year?’ (on Twitter to Southern Vipers captain Georgia Adams).
“Why not! Why don’t we bring red ball cricket into the domestic game because that is where you learn your skills? I’d be all for that.”
Hartley continued: “That was the best women’s Test Match I have ever witnessed. People may look at it and say, ‘It was just another draw’. But it was anything but.
“There was some remarkable cricket played, and I’ve still got that exciting feeling now about Test cricket because it was such a good game to watch.
“We definitely need more Test cricket. It’s something the girls have been after for years.
“Four-day cricket doesn’t help because it’s so often a draw. A fifth day would be handy. That needs to be looked at.”
Hartley now turns her attention back to Thunder duty, with the opening Charlotte Edwards Cup T20 fixture against ‘Roses’ rivals the Diamonds at Emerald Headingley on Saturday (2.30pm).
The Thunder ended the Sparks unbeaten record in the 50-over Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy in their last fixture earlier this month, so head into the new competition with spirits high.
“The Sparks win was a really good one,” said the skipper. “We fought hard to get the win, and we’ve got a bit of momentum and a feel good factor in the camp.”
“But there’s nothing better than going to play your local rivals in the Northern Diamonds. We can’t wait.
“We all know it’s really Lancashire versus Yorkshire. And there’s a bit more on it now that they’ve signed Sarah Taylor because we want to prove a point that we can still get that win even though they’ve signed a superstar.”
The Thunder will be without England duo Kate Cross and Sophie Ecclestone because of one-day international duty.
“Having Crossy and Soph makes our bowling attack 100 times better. But I still feel like we’ve got a strong attack without them,” said Hartley.
“One thing that is really important for us is our top five stays the same in the batting whether we have our England players or not. We can build our team around that.
“Going into T20, we’ve got Laura Marshall who has opened the batting previously in T20 but has been batting down at seven or eight for us this summer.
“She is a very powerful striker of the ball, so maybe we’ll see her up the order.
“We have a very flexible batting group who have been scoring runs lately, which is great to see because it was a case of death, taxes and us being 10-2 last year!
Hartley was playing for the Surrey Stars in the old Kia Super League when England legend Taylor spent a season as a Lancashire Thunder player.
But the pair were long time international team-mates and were part of the England team which won the 2017 one-day World Cup at Lord’s.
Hartley added: “The fact she’s got on top of her mental health and is comfortable coming back to cricket is great. She’s got other things outside of the game to keep her balanced.
“It’s so good to see her back and happy. Good on her, fair play.
“I’m really proud of her for what she’s overcome in the last few years.”