Cricketer 'Tom Hartley effect' boosts garden centre business

England match-winning cricketer Tom Hartley's performances have led to a boom in interest in his family's garden centre and nursery in Merseyside.

Annabelle, Bill, Anne-Louise and Tom Hartley

His sister Annabelle said there's "definitely" been a group of new customers at Hartley's Nurseries this week: "It's been a bit crazy to be honest - but it's been good."

The BBC, ITV and Sky Sports have recorded at the Lydiate centre and have also focused on the plants for sale, including homegrown primroses, as well as Tom and his family.

HortWeek ran 'garden centre owners son beats India at cricket' on Sunday 28 January after the spin bowler took 7-62 to lead England to a historic victory in India in Hyderabad.

"The day after the first Test the phone was ringing off the hook. I thought it was people ordering flowers, but it was all journalists," Annabelle told HortWeek.

The Telegraph, Mail, Guardian, Sun and Independent were among those to run features last week.

"It's an unusual story Tom achieved something in the first Test that's not been done before and they liked the family story behind it as well. It's just a normal family business that Tom works at sometimes. But anything that gets the business out there has got to be good. There's definitely been the Tom Hartley effect. The last week of January is not historically a busy time for garden centres, but we've definitely seen a boost in business.

"The cafe has been absolutely chocka and it seems a lot of customers have not been to us before because they're not sure of the way around and are asking lots of questions. There's a lot of accents from not around here."

The slow left armer's 7-62 went with two wickets in the first innings and scores of 23 and 34 as England won in Hyderabad by the narrow margin of 28 runs. England had lost seven and won one of their last eight Tests in India before Hartley destroyed the star India batting line-up. It was just India's fourth defeat in their last 48 home Tests. The 7-62 was the best debut analysis in a Test for England since Dominic Cork's 7-43 in 1995, and the fifth best ever, and came after his first ball in Test cricket was hit for six. His 9-193 in the match was the eleventh best for England on debut.

"We're thrilled," Annabelle added. "We still can't quite believe he had such as good debut. We just wanted to give him a big hug, but he's on the other side of the world. We're glad there's a week off because waking up 4am to watch is not the easiest to keep doing, but obviously it's worth it."

England lost the next Test at Visakhapatnam. Tom starred again, taking five wickets and scoring 57 runs.

Dad Bill is off to Abu Dhabi this week to see his son train as England take a week's break from India before the third Test in Rajkot, starting on 15 February. Meanwhile, Anne-Louise is preparing for Valentine's Day, ordering roses from South America and flowers from Aalsmeer. She reports price rises and import delays from the Netherlands, caused by new Border Control Points.


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