Talented cricketer Alex Hartley knocking the sport’s record books for six (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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Talented cricketer Alex Hartley knocking the sport’s record books for six
For cricketers, the end of the season is a time to look back and reflect on the highs and lows. But for Alex Hartley, the season which ended at the weekend is one she will never forget. JOHN ANSON meets the history maker striking a blow for sportswomen everywhere...
YESTERDAY Alex Hartley was busy trying to decide what final items to put into her suitcase before she flew out to spend the next six months in Australia.
A journey halfway across the world is just the latest adventure for the 19-year-old from Read, who this summer became the first woman to play senior league cricket for Clitheroe and in doing so is believed to become the first woman ever to play senior league cricket in the North West of England.
A slow left arm spinner, Alex made her debut for Clitheroe in a Ramsbottom Cup quarter-final tie with Settle and subsequently played for the first team in the league itself.
“It was a fantastic experience to play for the first team,” said Alex. “I joined Clitheroe this year and hoped that I would break through and now I want to play a part next season.
“I hope other teams will give women the opportunity to move through the ranks if they are good enough.”
Alex, a regular member of the Lancashire women’s squad, said that she received great support from her male team mates.
“They were all brilliant with me and very welcoming,” she said. “I only joined Clitheroe from Read this season so I didn’t really know many of them that well but they were great.
“I also got a lot of respect from opposing teams too, although some supporters did give me some grief. When I came on to bowl you could hear some of them shouting asking the captain if he knew what he was doing, but it was all banter really. I’ve had to put up with that from when I first started playing cricket as a young girl.”
As a pioneer in the league, Alex may not have experienced any major issues on the pitch but some of the practicalities of the game needed quick solutions.
“I don’t have a separate dressing room,” she said “I’d just turn up in my shorts and T-shirt and then put my whites on at the clubhouse. It’s no big deal.”
Clitheroe’s professional this season Kashif Siddique is, like Alex, a spin bowler.
“He’s been really helpful and encouraging,” she said. “Then again, he knows he’s a better bowler that I am.”
Women’s cricket is undergoing a resurgence, with the England wom-en’s team ran-ked number one in the world and the sport’s governing body the ECB encouraging more girls to get involved.
At the weekend Alex took part in a 24-hour sponsored cricket marathon to help pay for Lancashire under-19s to take part in a tournament in Dubai.
“I’ve decided to take time out from my studies to concentrate on my cricket,” said Alex. “I will spend the next six months living with a family in Australia and playing for a team called Box Hill. That is a women’s team but I’m hoping that I will get to turn out for the men’s team too.”
The Australian trip will mean Alex will have to spend time away from her boyfriend, rising Lancashire star Alex Davies.
“We have trained together going through the Lancashire ranks,” said Alex. “I have bowled to him in the nets. If you ask him he’ll say I’ve never got him out — but I have.”
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