ALEX HARTLEY: Opening night thriller in The Hundred left me BUZZING until 5am! With 1.6million watching live on the BBC and the Oval crowd lapping it up, it felt like an enormous step forward for women’s cricket
I was buzzing so much after playing in the opening game of the Hundred on Wednesday night at The Oval that I was still awake at 4.30am.
I texted my friend and Manchester Originals captain Kate Cross to ask if she was too, and she came to my room and chatted until 5.15.
We both agreed we could not have asked for a better start to the competition – and we hope that, for now at least, we’ve silenced the critics of this new tournament.
Alex Hartley bowls for the Manchester Originals in Wednesday night’s The Hundred opener
Hartley admitted feeling the nerves with millions watching on but soon settled into the match
Put it this way: I’ve not felt nerves like it since the 2017 World Cup final. We were all aware how important it was for women’s cricket for us to get off to a good start, and you could feel the tension.
Laura Jackson, one of our seamers, had never played on TV before, so after she got a wicket with her first ball, we asked her if she was feeling a bit better. She said she still couldn’t feel her legs.
I knew what she meant. I felt sick to the stomach as I prepared to bowl the first ball of the Oval Invincibles chase, and did a bit of deep breathing to help.
The Hundred opened its doors for the first time in dramatic fashion with firework displays
The brand new cricket format gives entertainment for both cricket newcomers and regulars
It was just a shame we ran into Dane van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp, their two South African pros. That’s why you pay good money for the overseas cricketers, although we dropped too many catches.
I’d played in a front of a couple of big crowds in India before, but never one as big as this in domestic cricket in this country. Then we heard that the BBC had a peak audience of over 1.6m.
It felt like a huge step forward for women’s cricket, and that was reflected in my social media after the game. It’s never been busier or more positive. Now I just need to find time for a bit of sleep.
Mady Villiers (left) and Dane van Niekerk (right) steered the Oval Invincibles to victory