Alex Hartley announces indefinite break from cricket to prioritise mental health

Thunder spinner Alex Hartley is stepping away from cricket for the “foreseeable future” in order to focus on her mental health. Hartley has stated that she has “no timeline” for her response, but she has not yet given up on the game in the hopes that a break may rekindle her enthusiasm.

 

Alex Hartley announces indefinite break from cricket to prioritise mental health. PC: Getty Images
Alex Hartley announces indefinite break from cricket to prioritize mental health. PC: Getty Images

 

“I have decided to step away from cricket for the foreseeable future,” Hartley said in an episode released on May 26. “I’ve been struggling mentally [for a while] and 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.

English cricketer Alex Hartley bowls left-arm orthodox spin. In February 2016 against South Africa, Hartley made her England debut at the international level. Since then, she has participated in both ODI and T20 matches. Her contribution to England’s victory in the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup was significant. Additionally, Hartley has participated in Women’s Big Bash League games for Lancashire Thunder and Melbourne Stars. Hartley is well recognized for her sense of humor off the pitch and is a vocal proponent of mental health awareness.

Hartley co-hosts the “No Balls” podcast with her Thunder teammate Kate Cross. She recently addressed her issues with mental health on this podcast. She said, “I would have stepped away a few weeks ago, but I didn’t want to make the decision overnight. The reason I haven’t retired is that I genuinely feel I could get that love back for the game, and I could get back to that person who plays and really enjoys it. I’ve given myself the opportunity to get back there.

“If I retire now, I’d probably regret it further down the line.”

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Taking such decisions is very tough for the players since playing cricket professionally can be a dream come true for many athletes, but it also comes with its own set of challenges that can affect one’s mental health. The intense pressure to perform well, coupled with the long hours of training and travel, can take a toll on a player’s mental well-being.

Additionally, injuries, team dynamics, and constant scrutiny from the media and fans can contribute to feelings of anxiety, depression, and other mental health struggles. It is important for players to have access to mental health resources and support systems to help them navigate these challenges. By prioritizing mental health and destigmatizing seeking help, players can better manage their mental health and perform at their best on and off the field.

She has played in 20 Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy games, getting 33 wickets. She has also played in 13 Charlotte Edwards Cup games, taking eight wickets. She has been a member of Thunder’s team since the regional restructuring in 2020.

It takes a great deal of strength and courage to acknowledge when you need to take a break and seek support but with time and proper care, one can surely recoup and come back stronger.

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