The Cricket Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By Chris Bai­ley

Just one more win now needed for World Cup qual­i­fi­ca­tion

ALEX Hart­ley was fast­tracked into the Eng­land set-up at 15 and eight mixed years later, Mark Robin­son ad­mits the left-arm spinner has made her­self ‘un­drop­pable’ after com­ing of age in the West Indies.

Hart­ley was some­thing of a teenage prodigy but strug­gled to adapt to the rigours of Eng­land’s academy, with her bat­ting and field­ing deemed not up to scratch.

Since 2013, helped by a move from Lan­cashire to Mid­dle­sex, Hart­ley has slowly re­dis­cov­ered her con­fi­dence and few English play­ers ben­e­fit­ted from this sum­mer’s in­au­gu­ral Kia Su­per League more than she did for Sur­rey Stars.

She trans­lated that form to the in­ter­na­tional stage in her first full Eng­land tour – claim­ing 13 wick­ets and shar­ing the player of the se­ries award with West Indies skip­per Stafanie Tay­lor.

That was after the 23-year-old took 4-24 as Eng­land clinched the de­cid­ing ODI in Kingston to win the se­ries 3-2, and Robin­son waxed lyri­cal over her me­te­oric rise.

“She’s ever such a tough girl, she shows a lot of char­ac­ter all the time,” he said. “There’s el­e­ments of the game she needs to get bet­ter at but she puts in an in­cred­i­ble amount of hard work.

“She has done it the hard way – she was on the academy, left the academy and was out in the cold.

“She’s made her­self un­drop­pable, she has been the out­stand­ing bowler from both teams and the big­gest wick­et­tak­ing threat.

“There was a lot of talk on how best to play their leg-spinner, but I’m sure the West Indies would have done a lot of talk on how best to get hold of Alex Hart­ley. She’s come out on top and helped con­trib­ute to a great win.”

This was the first time the West Indies had re­grouped since their World T20 vic­tory over Aus­tralia in April. And though it took the fifth and fi­nal ODI to sep­a­rate the teams, Eng­land al­ways looked in com­mand – their two de­feats came after throw­ing away com­fort­able po­si­tions in run chases.

In­deed, Eng­land were not to be de­nied a five-wicket vic­tory after skit­tling the hosts for 155 on Wed­nes­day, as Nat Sciver came to the fore with an un­beaten 58 from 74 balls.

To clinch the se­ries win in such hos­tile con­di­tions – with the bat­ters com­ing un­der duress – was par­tic­u­larly pleas­ing for Robin­son ahead of Novem­ber’s tour to Sri Lanka.

“I see them de­vel­op­ing all the time,” said Robin­son. “Some­times learn­ing is tough and some­times learn­ing re­ally hurts and that’s what we had the other day.

“The key bit is tak­ing your lessons and putting things into prac­tice, (bat­ting coach) Ali Maiden has been out­stand­ing, al­low­ing us to re­group and com­ing up with plans. Plans are great on pa­per but they have to be put into prac­tice in the mid­dle.

“We showed a lot of char­ac­ter bat­ting sec­ond again, and there is a point where there could have been a wob­ble but the cap­tain (Heather Knight) showed her ma­tu­rity and Sciver was ab­so­lutely out­stand­ing. Once you’ve got that big part­ner­ship it puts you in the boxseat.

“I’m re­ally pleased how they’ve done the whole trip. It was a dif­fi­cult start we had with train­ing on the beach, and the con­di­tions have been so hot, and hu­mid, too, more hu­mid, more like Sri Lanka.

“We stuck in there, we had a cou­ple of wob­bles but we’re a young team learn­ing all the time and that’s ex­cit­ing.”


Joy and pain: Amy Jones and Natalie Sciver cel­e­brate vic­tory as a shat­tered Shaquana Quin­tyne looks on. Inset: Heather Knight ac­cepts the se­ries tro­phy from Ja­maica min­is­ter of sport Olivia Grange

West Indies Women 155 lost to Eng­land Women 158-5 by 5 wick­ets

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