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Alex Hartley opens up on the impact of Rory Burns Twitter furore

Ben Gardner by Ben Gardner
@Ben_Wisden 3 minute read

Alex Hartley has opened up on the impact of the Twitter furore that exploded after a tweet from her was disapprovingly quote-tweeted by England opener Rory Burns.

During the third innings of England’s two-day third-Test defeat to India, Hartley, who last played for England in 2019, tweeted, “Nice of the England boys to get this test match finished just before England Women play tonight” followed by a series of clap emojis and a suggestion to watch the game on BT Sport.

Burns, in a now-deleted reply, said, “Very disappointing attitude considering all the ‘boys’ do to support the women’s game”, with other men’s county cricketers also criticising Hartley.

Speaking on No Balls: The Cricket Podcast, which she hosts with England seamer Kate Cross, Hartley was moved to tears as she discussed the impact of the “trolling” which followed the responses from the men’s cricketers.

“The tweet went down really well until Rory quoted it, and then it went down like a sack of shit,” she said. “It went down like he had two million followers. I just felt like I was getting attacked from all angles from something that was genuinely meant to be a bit of humour. The messages of slating women’s cricket and saying that the men fund women’s cricket, I can deal with that. But it’s when people are telling you to go and die and a hole. Like, really? Just for tweeting the one thing.

“Tom Jones from the PCA said, ‘Alex you can deal with it, I know you can, but you do have a breaking point. And there is going to be a time when this will get to you and you will snap and you will be really upset.’ The stuff that got to me was people saying I’m a bad role model, because I pride myself on trying to be a really good role model and trying to show that being a professional athlete, there is a real side to it, and you can be a normal human as well. People saying that really got to me.”

Hartley also disclosed that she had received an email from the ECB telling her she had “got it wrong”.

“I just think the really really disappointing bit for me was getting an email from the ECB telling me I got it wrong,” she said. “I was fine with the trolls until that moment, because it felt like they were sticking up for Rory and not me. Not that I wanted them to stick up for me, but I wanted them to see it from my point of view as well.”

Hartley pointed out that her intention wasn’t to making light of an England loss, since when the tweet was sent, the game was still in progress.

“I actually tweeted it when Joe Root had just got five-for, and the game was clearly going to finish that day and it could have gone either way,” she said. “Yes, if you’re an England player and you’ve seen that tweet, it looks like I’ve done it because they’ve lost, and I hadn’t. We called it a clumsy tweet, but the intentions of the tweet wes genuinely just to have a bit of a giggle, and say ‘by the way, the girls play. It might be a bit better.’”

She also suggested that the negative reaction to her tweet came from people who thought she still played for England.

“I think looking back if I’d just said, “That game’s finished early, but the girls play tonight”… in my opinion, I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve done a tweet that was meant to be funny and it’s been taken as not funny, and people are giving me grief like I still play for England, and I don’t.

“I don’t know if anybody noticed but I changed my Twitter picture, because it was a picture of me in an England shirt, and then I started getting all this abuse being like, ‘you’re not supporting your men’s team, blah blah blah’, and I was like ‘hang on a minute, I am supporting them because I’ve just tweeted that Joe Root is better than Ashwin. He’s a GOAT.’ I do support England men, and if you read the previous tweets it was obvious that I was supporting them. I was getting stick like I was still playing for you guys, so I changed my picture to me in a Lancs shirt to make it clear that I do not play for England anymore.”

Burns has reportedly been reprimanded by the ECB for his tweet.

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