16 May 2024

Lauren Bell puts England first as leader of bowling attack

16 May 2024

Lauren Bell treats being England’s attack leader as her top priority as the in-demand seamer admitted she “can’t play every possible game”.

After the retirements of Anya Shrubsole and Katherine Sciver-Brunt, Bell is now England captain Heather Knight’s go-to fast bowler in all formats and the 23-year-old does not take the responsibility lightly.

Having shunned the Women’s Premier League in India in favour of a full role on England’s tour of New Zealand in March, Bell has skipped the first few weeks of the domestic season to be primed for the visit of Pakistan.

Bell was initially rusty in her first outing in over a month last Saturday before recovering to take three for 22 in England’s tour-opening win at Edgbaston and she accepts having to hit the ground running now comes with the territory.

“It was my first game of the summer and that might be a bit how my cricket looks, that I’m just going to have come in and play international cricket,” she said ahead of Friday’s second T20 at Northampton.

“When I came back from New Zealand, the way I felt, my priority was to have a bit of extra rest and then prepare myself really well for this Pakistan series.

“I feel really fortunate that I have so much cricket on offer to me but it’s just unrealistic to be able to play in it all. I can’t play every possible game.

“My priority is international cricket. I love leading this bowling attack. We have so many seamers coming through, I want to keep leading this bowling attack.”

I feel really fortunate that I have so much cricket on offer to me but it's just unrealistic to be able to play in it all. I can't play every possible game

Only spinners Sophie Ecclestone and Ash Gardner took more wickets than Bell’s 14 in seven matches in last year’s Ashes, with important contributions in the series-levelling T20 leg.

Bell is accustomed to operating at the start and end of innings – usually when batters are at their most attacking – and she takes comfort in the trust placed in her by Knight and head coach Jon Lewis.

“When you’re backed by your captain and coach and when you have this responsibility, as a player it gives me a lot of confidence,” she said. “It’s really helped my game and pushed me forward.

“The best feeling you have when you go on to a cricket pitch is knowing that you have the support and backing of everyone and they have a really high praise for you.”

England are looking to build up a head of steam this summer before October’s T20 World Cup in Bangladesh, where pitches are expected to be slow and low and suit spin bowlers.

While England have a vaunted turning trio of Sophie Ecclestone, Sarah Glenn and Charlie Dean, Bell knows she will have a key role to play and has already formulated a plan to be successful.

“We just know that in Bangladesh, it’s going to be really important to keep the stumps in play and maybe a lot of pace-off will be the best option,” she added.

“As a seamer, that will be my job along with the best spinners in the world, who pretty much always produce the goods for us. I’m pretty fortunate with what team I’m in.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox