“It’s been a tricky few months,” says Lauren Bell after picking 5-fer against New Zealand

During the ongoing New Zealand tour of England, which spans from June 26 to July 17, 2024, consisting of three One Day Internationals (ODIs) followed by five T20 Internationals (T20Is), the hosts achieved a clean sweep in the ODI series with a 3-0 victory. In the final and third ODI, Lauren Bell marked a significant milestone by claiming her maiden international five-wicket haul, finishing with figures of 5/37 in 9 overs and earning the Player of the Match award.

It's been a tricky few months, says Lauren Bell after picking 5-fer against New Zealand
It’s been a tricky few months, says Lauren Bell after picking 5-fer against New Zealand

Post the win, Bell discussed the challenges of remodelling her bowling action amidst international competition. She also reflected on the past few challenging months and expressed satisfaction with her recent success, acknowledging it as a great day.

She said, “It’s been a tricky few months, so yeah, it was nice to come out of today with some real success, it was a great day.”

Bell noted that upon returning from the series in New Zealand, she and her team decided to make some adjustments to her bowling action to advance her career and enhance her skills as a bowler.

She further added, “I got back from the series in New Zealand and we just thought to push my career on, make me a better bowler, we’d changed a few things with my action.”

Bell acknowledged the challenges of adapting her bowling technique after a long period of consistency. Without a dedicated training block and continuously playing matches, the adjustment has been difficult, especially on the international stage. Despite these challenges, she believes that the changes will benefit her in the long term, as evidenced by her performance, which indicates progress and a positive direction for her future development.

She stated, “But obviously when you bowl a certain way for however long, it has been tricky. I don’t really have a training block, I’ve just been playing, but it’s definitely for the best in the long term and I guess today shows that it is going to push me forward. But yeah, it is obviously hard doing it on an international stage.”

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Bell explained that throughout the process, she often fell away, so the decision was made to get her more upright for safety reasons. This adjustment allowed her to bowl more, increasing her speed and bounce due to her height. Initially, the focus was on adding pace and bounce to her bowling, but becoming more upright also enabled her to swing the ball both ways.

She explained, “I fell away a lot, and so we thought if we could get me more upright, it’d be safer. It means I can bowl more and it means I should be quicker and from being taller I get more bounce. So, it came from that point of view initially, to add pace to my bowling, pace and bounce, and leading me to be more upright allowed me to then be able to swing it both ways.”

Lauren Bell highlighted the significant support she received from England women’s fast bowling coach Matt Mason. She mentioned that Mason likely felt like a proud dad for her five-fer, acknowledging the tears, drama, and disagreements they had experienced. Despite the challenges, they worked closely together, with Mason dedicating a lot of time to help her reach this point in her career.

“I think he would’ve felt like a proud dad today,” Bell said. “There’s been tears, there’s been drama, there’s been disagreements. We work really closely and he’s put in a lot of time to get me here.”

She explained that her bowling coach anticipated a chain reaction in her development, leading to greater excitement as she focused on honing consistency. The goal was to perfect swinging the ball both ways and mastering the wobble-seam ball. Although it’s something she is still learning, she is optimistic about the exciting potential it holds for the future.

“I think my bowling coach knew that one thing was going to lead to another. I guess it got really exciting and now it’s just honing in on the consistency of being able to swing it both ways and bowl a wobble-ball obviously. It’s something I’m just going to learn, but hopefully in the long run will be really exciting,” she added.

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Lauren Bell shared that the significant breakthrough in recent weeks has been related to the mental aspect of her game and how she approaches it during matches. While training had been going well, she recognized that performing in a game setting was a different challenge altogether. She has since focused on improving her concentration and mental clarity. Fully committed to this new approach, she believes that this change is for the best and is determined to see it through without turning back.

Bell mentioned that she had spent a long time without needing to think much about her bowling. However, with her recent change in action, she now has to concentrate more. She has learned the importance of focus and has developed a couple of cues to help her reset before every ball. This new routine, which she has picked up over the past few months, is expected to be particularly beneficial in pressure situations.

Since her international debut in 2022, Bell has showcased her talents across all three formats of the game. She has amassed a total of 63 wickets, with 8 in Tests, 27 in One Day Internationals (ODIs), and 28 in T20 Internationals (T20Is). Beyond international cricket, Bell has expanded her experience by participating in prestigious overseas leagues such as the Women’s Premier League (WPL) and the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL). In the inaugural season of WPL, she played for the UP Warriorz, while in the WBBL, she represented the Sydney Thunder.

(Quotes sourced from ESPNcricinfo)

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