Alexandra Hartley - Bee More Manchester - 012

Alex admits straight away that as a kid, she was always a tomboy favouring her brothers tracksuit bottom hand me downs to the dresses her mum would get her.

Alex lived on an estate with 8 or 9 boys as her closest friends, playing football with them most days. On one Friday evening they said they were going to the local cricket club. Alex asked her mum if she could go, to which the answer was, please not another sport you want to play...

Convinced by the fact that the bar would be open, that’s where Alex’s career in cricket began at Read Cricket Club in Burnley.

For those that aren’t familiar with the series, I’ve decided to do a take on ‘Humans of New York’ but for people who call Manchester home.

Bee More MCR will try and tell the story of this incredible city and all the people who contribute to it being the fastest growing city in Europe.

So how does this work? I will get each person to tell me their story in their own words of how they got to where they are today. I will share that story along with some photos for context.

Each person featured will then be asked the same question – Why Manchester?

Signing up for a professional sports contract is more constricting than people realise. Alex hasn’t been skiing for years and can’t ever go skydiving, because if they get injured, the contract is terminated as they aren’t insured.

Alex played boys cricket up to the age of 17 before starting to play for men's teams. As a spin bowler batting number 11 (the last person to bat) Alex admits if there was a 12th batter, she would be number 12!

Alex got invited to the England Women's Academy at 17 years old, where she was a part of the England set up for two years. Being released by the England academy at 22, Alex moved down to Middlesex from Lancashire (LCCC), where she decided to commit to cricket further as they were a division one side.

Just two years later she was invited back to the England academy for one season before getting a call up to the England squad.

Let’s face it, womens cricket isn’t remunerated the same as mens football, so there were so many times over the years where she would sit down with friends and family to consider following a different career.

Alex worked in a bakery from 8-3 back in Read just to get her through. So getting that call up to the England squad made it all worthwhile. Two weeks before the call up, Alex had decided to walk away and pack it in…

So understandably when the coach casually said, “see you on Monday” in the academy car park, meaning she had made the squad, it was an emotional moment.

Alex played around 40 one day internationals for England from 2017 to 2019, admitting she favours the 50 over format otherwise known as a “Day Night” game.

Alex won the world cup with England in 2017 before going on tour to Australia for the Women's Ashes and finally on to India, where unfortunately Alex didn’t take any wickets. This meant Alex missed out on the summer with the squad in the UK, before two more away tours to Sri Lanka and India during the next winter.

Despite having a strong World Cup and tour of Australia, it wasn’t enough to secure her England place and she was dropped from the squad.

Alex admits this is the hardest thing she has ever had to deal with in her life. I have so much admiration for Alex being honest with me about this time in her life, to admit mental weakness depicts underlying mental strength and that is never more true than how Alex and her family dealt with this difficult news in 2019.

At one point Alex had to cover up her framed photo and medal from the world cup after being embarrassed by what had happened.

I’m definitely guilty of this, but we sometimes forget that sports people or those in the public eye are still human beings, they have kids and families, but people treat them like a utility.

Alex quite simply broke down after leaving the England squad and didn’t want to leave the house. One tough night of conversations with her mum, brought her back and started the recovery process to the next stage of her career.

This started with Alex going travelling and it changed her life. She only got back about a week before the UK went into lockdown on the 23rd March this year. One thing she managed to secure while travelling was a job commentating on the women's World Cup in Australia.

Alex has a real flare for media and I can see her continuing to pick up more work in this field after her career. She admits that she really enjoys it.

Alex has also been lucky enough to be sign one of only 40 UK professional female County cricket contracts available, obviously signing for Lancashire. It’s not enough to live off but it’s definitely a start.

The ECB had also pre-Covid, launched a new format of cricket called The 100. The idea is to get something as popular as the IPL in the UK, with teams being based in city centres to grow the game. Alex not only got selected for Manchester, she also got signed by the BBC to commentate on this league. Hopefully this initiative doesn’t fall away and can get going again soon.

When asked why Manchester, Alex mentioned how much she loves the bars, restaurants and nightlife the city has to offer.

Growing up in Burnley, she has always been close to the city, but the fact that you can go out for breakfast or a bottomless brunch, to then still be out, dancing on the tables in Alberts Schloss at 2am, what more do you want from a city?

Living in media city, Alex loves that she is 5 minutes from town, 10 minutes from Didsbury and really close to the BBC and LCCC for work.

Make sure you follow Alexandra on social media @alexhartley93 . Really appreciate Alex sitting down with me for this interview. I genuinely wish her all the luck with the “No Balls” podcast and her new contract with Lancashire!