Tom Hartley’s headline role in England’s famous victory in India has left members of his hometown club “basking in the reflected glory” of a rags-to-riches Test debut.
After Hartley’s second-innings seven for 62 sealed a famous 28-run win in Hyderabad on Sunday, Ormskirk CC offered a free drink to their patrons as they celebrated one of their own’s remarkable success.
Hartley progressed through the juniors at Ormskirk, a market town in Lancashire 13 miles north of Liverpool, and was even playing the odd game for them up until a couple of years ago.
He still has close ties to the club as his father’s flower business supplies their hanging baskets, so it is little wonder there was unconfined joy at Hartley’s accomplishments on the subcontinent.
“It’s a massive, massive achievement for him,” club chair Bill Rankin told the PA news agency. “We’re all basking in the reflected glory, just to have been part of his cricket career.
“We’d have been watching it anyway as cricket fans and that was a fantastic result but to have a fantastic result where you know someone who’s been a significant part of that, it adds a new element.
“It was a great game, full stop, but it was an even greater game when you know someone who was making it happen. It’s like a dream what happened to him on Sunday.
“This is the first time we’ve had someone who’s come through juniors who played at the highest level. That’s why it’s such a special moment as a club because he really is one of our own.”
Hartley endured a turbulent start to his Test career as his maiden delivery was dispatched for six by Yashasvi Jaiswal, with the slow left-armer’s opening nine-over burst leaking an eye-watering 63 runs.
But from humble beginnings, Hartley showed his redoubtable character when the game was in the balance after India were set 231, snaring their top three then taking the final wicket as England went 1-0 up.
The unwavering support of captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum echoes how Hartley was treated at Ormskirk after stepping up to adult level in his early teens.
“The way he’s been captained and looked after at Ormskirk, he’s been backed,” Rankin added. “It’s a healthy way to bring people on.
“He’s been given the ball even when he was fairly young at a time when it could make the difference to a game, told not to worry about the outcome and he’s won games that could have gone the other way.
“It’s nice to think that at the highest level he can play at, he seems to be getting that same sort of backing where you can play in an environment where you’re not afraid to fail.”
Ormskirk’s X feed on Sunday garnered plenty of attention, while a video posted by their first-team captain showing a younger Hartley standing on a table and singing ‘I wanna dance with Tom Hartley’ to Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ has been viewed nearly a quarter of a million times.
Held in the highest regard by his old club, Rankin hopes this is just the start of the 24-year-old’s journey.
“It was always obvious he was a talented cricketer but I think his progress has been a steady one,” Rankin added. “He’s been steady, steady and improving all the time.
“You’ve got to work really hard to get yourself in the situation where you have the opportunity to do what he’s done. He has done that.
“Hopefully he’ll keep on doing that, we believe he’s capable of doing it, obviously others do now so fingers crossed.”