PSL’s first women’s coach Alex Hartley: ‘Everyone has been so welcoming … Want to learn some Hindi and Urdu words too’ | Cricket News

Endless meetings. It is the only part that Alex Hartley, spin bowling coach of PSL franchise Multan Sultans, dislikes.“There are separate meetings for batting, bowling and fielding, which I am still finding tough to deal with,” Hartley tells The Indian Express. She and former Ireland player Catherine Dalton, a fast bowling coach, have been the first female coaches in the league’s hory.
Hartley, who has played 28 ODIs and four T20Is for England between 2016 and 2019, and also broke millions hearts in the 2017 World Cup final when she took Harmanpreet Kaur’s wicket, says the experience has been incredible. “Everyone is welcoming and understanding. Ali (Tareen, the franchise owner) has broken boundaries. When he rang me and told me I need you at Multan Sultans, I just couldn’t turn it down. It’s a lot more than cricket,” says Hartley.
Hartley with the spin bowlers of Multan Sultans
She worried if everyone would respect her, or understand the culture she was from. “As soon as I arrived, we had a team meeting. Ali sat down everyone and said this is your bowling coach, this is your fielding coach blah blah. I instantly felt at home,” she says.
The players too have been welcoming. “Mostly everything I have advised to them has been taken on board. There are times in the meeting when they will ask ‘so Alex what’s the plan?’ They are also backing me,” she says. Killing doubts about the safety of women in these parts, the 30-year-old says: “I genuinely couldn’t be safer,” says Hartley. She regrets that she has still not picked up Hindi or Urdu words, though communication has not been an issue. “I need to learn at least a few words of Hindi and Urdu,” she says, laughing. She has an interpreter to ensure her “communication is spot on”.
She, though, doesn’t find a massive difference between the dressing room of men and women cricketers. “It’s the same,” she says. “I sit in the dugout, because during the tactical time-out you have to talk to the players. But in my experience, the dressing room remains the same. You always have someone like Dahani (Shahnawaz), who is loud and has a happy personality. I think every dressing room needs a Dahani. Then there are the quiet ones in one corner, then there is Dahani who runs around and tries to rile up David Willey,” he elaborates.
Alex Hartley with the coaching staff of the Multan Sultans
The routines too are more or less the same. “The day-to-day set-up is similar. You go to the ground, you train and then the next day you do the bowling plans in the meeting. It is watching the footage of the opposition and making sure to get the tactics ready,” she says.
Tape ball lessons
The biggest learning for Hartley has been the craze for tape ball cricket in Pakan and how she has started using it in her coaching style. The biggest achievement was helping leg-spinner Usama Mir, who became the first spinner in PSL to grab a six-wicket haul, rediscover his form. Mir, who endured a terrible ODI World Cup, has picked up 13 wickets in the six outings, including 6 for 40 against defending champions Lahore Qalandars.
“I think he has put on a lot of hard work before the competition. He reflected on the World Cup. He came and told us straightaway to look where he was leaking runs, and this was where he wanted to improve,” says Hartley.
Hartley and other coaches sat down with him and asked him about the technical help he required. He said he was struggling to go through with his action at the crease. The exchange of ideas worked, and returned to form. “He has been so consent with his line and lengths. I couldn’t be more proud, he is putting up a lot of hard work,” she adds.
Alex Hartley during the training session with Multan Sultans
Another challenge was the placid batting surfaces. She has to constantly keep motivating them. She recollects an incident: “Against Qalandars, Usama bowled two overs and was expensive. He looked annoyed and frustrated. I told him that you are going to have days where you can have none for 10, you are going to have days where you can pick 5 for 20, and you are going to have days where you will go for plenty.”

While being busy watching the end number of videos, Hartley has also kept an eye out on the Women’s Premier League (WPL). “It’s probably one of the best tournaments in the world just behind The Hundred,” she says, laughing.

She, though, says she would love more teams and them traveling more like the IPL. “It’s been played only in Bangalore and Delhi. That’s a lot of games. Showing women’s cricket is accessible to everyone. I would love to see WPL getting more extended,” she says.

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