Alex Hartley: Taking indefinite break from cricket was ‘hardest decision’ ever

Alex Hartley, who helped England win the 2017 Women’s World Cup, admitted taking an indefinite break from cricket was the “hardest decision” she has ever made.

Hartley announced on her BBC No Balls Podcast on Friday that she had been “struggling mentally” for several months, having lost confidence in herself and fallen out of love with playing the game.

Posting several pictures of her younger self on Twitter on Saturday, Hartley wrote: “Stepping away from cricket has been the hardest decision I’ve ever made.

“Doing it for this little girl who fell in love with the game. Doesn’t mean it’s over, I have absolutely no doubt I’ll be back stronger than ever. Thank you for all the messages, they mean the world.”

Hartley has not played for England since 2019 but is a regular for Thunder, her domestic side based in the north west and has featured in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and Charlotte Edwards Cup this year.

Despite being retained by Welsh Fire in The Hundred, it is unclear whether Hartley will feature in the competition’s third edition in August, although she still intends to attend matches, starting with Thunder’s Charlotte Edwards Cup match against Sunrisers on Saturday afternoon.

The 29-year-old said on the podcast she records alongside Thunder team-mate Kate Cross: “I’ve stepped away and it might be for a month and it might be forever.

“I’m not putting a timeline on it because I don’t know how I’m going to feel tomorrow or the day after.

“I have felt like a different person, I have felt flat and I’ve not felt like that bubbly character that I normally am and that person that is excited to go to cricket.

“Every time I’ve pulled on my cricket shirt (recently), the best feeling has been at the end of the day when I can take it off again.

“I want to get back to that person that fell in love with cricket, is playing cricket because she enjoys it and at the minute, I’ve got no confidence.

“That person that stands at the end of their mark and believes she’s the best in the world. Right now I’m standing at the end of my mark going ‘anything could happen here’.”