Former England international Alex Hartley has described the personal online abuse she received in the wake of her tweet during England’s two-day Test defeat to India last week.
Hartley took to Twitter to advertise the women’s one-day international clash with New Zealand after the England men’s side, having been bowled out for 112 and 81, had collapsed to a 10-wicket defeat in Ahmedabad.
“Nice of the England boys to get this test match finished just before England Women play tonight,” Hartley wrote with four clapping emojis. “Catch them on @btsportcricket.”
Test opener Rory Burns, in a tweet liked by James Anderson and Ben Stokes but since deleted, wrote: “Very disappointing attitude considering all the ‘boys’ do to support the women’s game.”
Nottinghamshire batsman Ben Duckett, who won four caps for England and played his last Test in 2016, joined in by calling it an “average tweet”.
Hartley insists the tweet was purely tongue-in-cheek, but in her No Balls podcast with current England international Kate Cross said she had received a barrage of social media abuse.
“I’m a bit surprised at what has happened and a bit let down in a way from certain things that have happened,” Hartley said.
“I actually tweeted it when Joe Root got his five-fer and the game was clearly going to finish that day, but it could have gone either way. Yes, if you’re an England player and you see that tweet it looks like I’ve done it because they’ve lost and I hadn’t.
“We called it a clumsy tweet, didn’t we? The intention of the tweet was genuinely to have a bit of a giggle and say, ‘By the way the girls play and it might be a bit better’.
“In my opinion I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve done a tweet that was meant to be funny and it’s been taken as not funny and people are giving me grief like I still play for England – and I don’t.
“It’s been really weird because the tweet went down really, really well until Rory quoted it and then it went down like a sack of s***. I just felt like I was getting attacked from all angles over something that genuinely was meant to be a bit of humour.
“The messages of slating women’s cricket and saying that the men fund women’s cricket blah blah blah. I can deal with that.
“But it’s when people are telling you to go and die in a hole. Like, really? Just for tweeting one thing.
“The one that really infuriated me was I got a tweet from some guy saying, ‘Women’s cricket’s crap, women shouldn’t play sport, women this, women that’. He was a primary school head teacher. You just think, ‘If only I could show everybody who you really are’.”
Hartley, who is no longer contracted by England, is a regular cricket journalist and believes her tweet was singled out among other commentators’ opinions on the Test because she is a woman.
She also says she was told by the England and Wales Cricket Board that she was in the wrong, although it is understood both Hartley and Burns were spoken to in the aftermath.
“Mine got picked out I think because I’m a woman. And the really, really disappointing thing for me was getting an email from the ECB telling me I’d got it wrong,” Hartley added.
“I was fine with the the trolls until that moment, because it felt like they were sticking up for Rory and not me. Not that I wanted them to stick up for me, but I wanted them to see it from my point of view as well.
“For them just to say, ‘You’ve got it wrong’ – I just thought, ‘Hang on a minute, what do the men actually do to support the women, genuinely’. (That) has been really disappointing.”
It is understood, however, that the ECB reminded both players involved of their responsibilities to help promote the game in a positive manner, with the governing body “condemning” any abuse of anyone involved.