2016 was a special year for Alex Hartley.
8 wickets from 5 matches for Surrey Stars. Most for her team. The 2nd best was 4 wickets, Kapp. The reward was England call-up. Against Pakistan. A debut to forget. A Meltdown during warm-ups. It would’ve been difficult.
But Hartley came back. West Indies series. 1st ODI- England had only 149 on board. Hartley’s 3 for 26 played a major role in giving a 5-run win for England. England lost the 2nd ODI due to batting collapse but she was the pick of the bowlers with 4/31.
2 for 32 in the third. In the fifth and the decider, Hartley returned with 4 for 24, gave England a 3-2 series win. She still has the most wickets for England in a bilateral series.
2017. World Cup. England vs Australia. A 3-run win. Hartley had 2/31. Wickets of Mooney and Lanning. Both were in good form and most importantly, both came when Australia had the upper hand. (For Lanning dismissal, she bowled it from behind the crease).
England vs New Zealand. Wickets of Suzie Bates and Sophie Devine. England marched to the semi-final and 1/25, the wicket of Hayley Matthews, took England to the top spot in the table.
Final. Of course, everyone remembers what had happened here. India’s collapse. Shrubsole’s brilliance. It was Hartley who made it all possible. From 43 for 2, India were 138. Kaur just made 50. Hartley interfered. Dismissed Kaur for 51 and later Sush Verma.
In a whisker, the match changed. Everything changed. England lifted the World Cup. Heartbreak for India. She ended as the 2nd leading wicket-taker for England with 10 wickets; 2 wickets and a match lesser than Shrubsole.
Wickets and wins. That’s there. But to me, Alex Hartley is a fighter. One of the best I’ve seen. On the field. Sometimes, off the field. Sometimes, the fight was within. No matter where what and how. She always found a way to come back. An inspiration.