Clitheroe’s Alex Hartley enjoyed “the best moment of my life” as England won the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup.
The 23-year-old took 2-58 as England held off India by nine runs at Lord’s on Sunday.
Teammate Anya Shrubsole was named player of the match after her 6-46, with India’s final seven wickets falling for just 28 runs.
Hartley, who started his cricket career with Read’s junior set-up, claimed 10 wickets in the tournament, garnering a reputation for removing opponents’ key batsmen – having added to the scalp of world number one-ranked Meg Lanning earlier this month, by removing New Zealand captain Suzie Bates, West Indies’ Hayley Matthews and, in the final, India’s Harmanpreet Kaur, who hit 171 not out against Australia in the semi-final.
And Hartley beamed: “It still doesn’t feel real, I’m absolutely buzzing!
“We came in as underdogs and probably didn’t think we would go as far as we did, but it’s the best moment of my life.”
Playing in front of a sell-out 26,500 crowd at Lord’s, and a peak audience of 1.1million viewers on Sky Sports was daunting, but she added: “It was unbelievable, I was a nervous wreck in our innings – I’ve never played in front of more than 3,500 before – but when I was bowling I managed to blank it all out, and the crowd got right behind us.
“We dreamed of this moment – we went to Lord’s before the World Cup and stood on the outfield and said ‘this is where we want to be, in the final’, and we managed to do it!”
Hartley was called up for England aged 15, but spent five years out of the picture, and has had to show real resilience to get back in the squad: “I was dropped at 16, spent five years out, but it was what I needed at the time.
“It was a kick up the bum I needed.
“Hopefully now I’ve cemented a place in the squad.”