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Hartley on her rekindled love for cricket ahead of new Thunder campaign

Hartley on her rekindled love for cricket ahead of new Thunder campaign

Alex Hartley says she has rekindled her love affair with the game of cricket

The World Cup winning left-arm spinner has spoken about overcoming a tough few years as she prepares to captain the Thunder in this summer’s Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, starting next weekend.

Hartley has even opened the door to giving international cricket another shot having not played for England since March 2019 and lost her central contract seven months later.

The 27-year-old said: “It was over the winter when Stephen Parry, who has been coaching with us, said, ‘You can still get better - we can get you bowling quicker and turning the ball more’. That was a turning point for me.

“Now, I’m consistently turning the ball, which I haven’t done for years.

“Paz has given me that excitement back.

“I’m now thinking, ‘Wow, if I can beat the outside edge, I can be a world beater’. And, on top of that, I love proving people wrong.

“I love cricket again. I absolutely love it. I’m chomping at the bit. I fell out of love with cricket just before I lost my England contract.

“If you’d have asked me a year ago about England, I’d have said, ‘I never want to play again’. But now, never say never. If they knocked on the door, I would be stupid to turn it down.

“There have been a few warm up games that England have played and I haven’t had the call. We’ll just have to wait and see.

“My aim for this season is to play well and get them talking again. From there, what will be will be.”

Over the winter, Hartley returned to full-time professional cricket as one of the Thunder’s five contracted players.

“To be able to train full-time as a domestic cricketer, it’s been a dream. It’s what English cricket has been lacking,” she continued.

“It is definitely a step that needed to happen. We’re five or six years behind Australia, and we can now start to catch them up. We now need more of our English girls contracted.”

Hartley also has a burgeoning media career running alongside her cricket, including recently getting the No Balls podcast she hosts alongside Kate Cross signed up by the BBC.

“That really keeps my mind fresh,” she said. “It reminds me that I’m here because I love the game. Cricket is not necessarily my job anymore.

“I’m here because I love it and am playing well. I will be playing for the next five or six years, and I would never have said that a year ago.

“I see myself as a role model for the next crop of Lancashire girls. I want to help develop them.

“I could quite easily retire now and be very happy with what I’ve done and achieved. But I would always have in the back of my mind the thought, ‘I could have done a little bit more’.”

And on the podcast she hosts with Cross, she added: “The fact we’ve just signed with the BBC is incredible. I get paid to look after my best mate!

“It’s something we’re really proud of and want all the girls who play cricket around the country to have an insight into what it’s like at professional level - the ups and the downs. It’s tough, but it is enjoyable.”

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