England spinner Tom Hartley expects his exploits in India to be ‘life changing’

Tom Hartley believes his Test tour of India could be a “life changing” experience as he plots a path from international newcomer to England regular.

The Lancashire spinner was a gut-feel selection for the trip, with his high release point, brisk pace and skiddy trajectory trumping a thin first-class record.

Despite losing the series 4-1, Hartley more than justified the call. Ending the series as the second-highest wicket-taker with 22, beaten only by the masterful Ravichandran Ashwin, the left-armer also sent down more overs than any other bowler as Ben Stokes sent him into action on 250 occasions.

Tom Hartley (left) meets club cricketers at South Manchester CC (ECN Handout/PA)

There was an unforgettable high in Hyderabad, where his second-innings haul of seven for 62 delivered one England’s greatest ever overseas victories, and the 24-year-old is beginning to adjust his own ambitions as he targets more of the same.

“I know that game will be remembered for a very long time. I think it probably will be life changing,” he told the PA news agency.

“Every so often I’ll see a clip and I’m still surprised. I almost have have to pinch myself like, ‘Wow, that’s what I did!’. The more time passes the more it settles in. My mum went out the day after and bought every paper going, so I’ve got a little folder which will be nice to look back on one day.

“But doing what I did has changed my perspective on what sort of player I can be. I’ve got a long way to go and I can still get a lot better but I know my ceiling has got a lot higher.

“I enjoyed it so much and now I just want to want to keep playing Test cricket. It’s a great environment and a great dressing room to be in. Everyone wants to be part of that and so do I.”

Hartley has already noticed his profile growing as a result of his winter exploits. He made the short journey from Emirates Old Trafford to South Manchester CC to take part in the ECB’s ‘Get Set Weekend’, helping other volunteers prepare the ground for the new season, and found himself the star attraction for a host of aspiring club players.

Hartley was turning out for Ormskirk in the Liverpool and District Premier League as recently as July 2022 and hopes his rapid rise through the ranks can motivate more to make the same journey.

“It was lovely to get down and help out at the club, but it was a bit weird too… so many kids know my name now, everyone there had heard of what I did,” he said.

“What happened to me was so amazing and I hope that is an inspiration to other cricketers out there, it shows things can happen fast if you keep believing. It’s a great story and I hope people see that and keep on going.”

In the short term, Hartley faces a fresh challenge in the form of Nathan Lyon. The Australia great has signed an all-format overseas deal with Lancashire this summer, which could squeeze the Englishman out of the side at the start of the season.

Hartley hopes to learn from Australia's Nathan Lyon at Lancashire this season.
Hartley hopes to learn from Australia’s Nathan Lyon at Lancashire this season (Mike Egerton/PA)

Rather than rail against the competition, he plans to use Lyon’s vast bank of knowledge to his advantage.

“Of course it’s tough to play two spinners but Nathan is someone I really want to learn off,” he said.

“Whatever happens he’s a great mentor and I’m more than happy to watch him bowl for a week or two. The things he does well are the things I want to get better at: he’s so good on flat pitches, he gets lots of over-spin and changes his pace.

“Hopefully he’ll have plenty of tips for me because I’ll be all eyes and ears.”

:: Tom Hartley was talking at the Get Set Weekend, powered by the Cricket Collective, a nationwide ECB initiative to celebrate volunteers across the club game.