Left-arm spinner Alex Hartley has admitted that she needs to learn whether she can “enjoy playing cricket again” while she remains on the outer of England Women’s current set-up.
In October last year it was announced that Hartley, 26, was to be cut from England’s list of centrally contracted players for 2020, just over two years on from helping her country to glory in the 2017 Women’s World Cup. Hartley took 10 wickets in eight matches that tournament but subsequently fell down the spinners’ pecking order following the emergence of fellow left-arm spinners Sophie Ecclestone, Kirstie Gordon, Linsey Smith and off-spinner Mady Villiers.
Speaking on the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, Hartley revealed that she still sees a way back into the England side, but it remains dependent on whether she can rediscover her enjoyment for playing the game following the disappointment of losing her contract.
“I’m 26 years old,” Hartley said, “I’m still very young. I had dreams of playing until I was in my thirties for England and for somebody to turn around and then say ‘You’re not good enough’, that’s where the devastation comes in because it’s not about the money. For me, I play cricket because I love it and the money was just a bonus and that it happened to be my job.
“If I was to put my heart and soul into it, I genuinely believe I could come back and play for England. I was a fantastic bowler. But essentially to go through that [experience] again, it’s just left me so heartbroken with the game of cricket. I just don’t know if I’m going to enjoy it enough to want to play for England again. I have to work out in my head whether or not I can even enjoy playing cricket again.”
While Hartley was not part of England’s squad for the T20 World Cup earlier this year, she did make the journey to Australia for the tournament, working as a commentator, an avenue she is keen to continue exploring.
“I love the media side,” Hartley said. “I was lucky enough to go to Australia with BBC TMS and do some work for them and absolutely fell in love with that side of the game. For me at the minute I want to carry on playing to see if I enjoy it, whilst building my media career. And from there it’s ‘Do I try hard to play for England again or do I make the transition into the media?’
The Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast is available on Spotify and the Podcast app.