Thu, 10 Dec 2020
Pic: Dave Vokes
LAUREN Bell has spoken about her excitement at being handed a full-time contract with Super League side Southern Vipers.
The 19-year-old is one of five Vipers players to be handed a contract by the club as they announced the news last week.
Bell, who used to represent Hungerford Cricket Club, was made aware of the decision a few months ago, but she had to keep quiet until now.
She said: “I found out in August, so it has been quite a while before everyone else could know, and it is so exciting and it’s a big step forward for cricket.
“My family knew, but it wasn’t public knowledge and the girls at the Vipers had guessed [who was getting a contract] because they were all talking about it.”
The news is part of the ECB’s decision to award 41 female cricketers full-time contracts, and Bell believes it’s a huge statement from the sport.
She said: “It is a huge movement and I would have never of thought that three years ago I would be in a position like this.
“I thought that the only way I would become professional would be if I got the chance to play for England.
“It is so exciting that you can be a professional and get to play domestic cricket because there are so many opportunities for people who may not have thought they would get the chance.”
The former Bradfield College student was part of the Vipers squad who lifted the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy in September, after beating Northern Diamonds by 38 runs.
Former England captain Charlotte Edwards is coach of the Vipers and Bell has spoken about her support throughout her time in the sport.
“Lottie has been great,” she said. “We have worked together for a few years now and she has always supported me and she has done a lot to help my progression.
“I am very grateful for everything she has done.
“I love the team, I think they’re the best group of girls. I remember a few seasons ago, I was running drinks on to the pitch and I was excited to be in the squad of 15.
“Now, however, I am one of five girls who have been given a contract and it really is amazing.”
Now that Bell has cemented a contract with the club, she is hoping to make progression into the England team, while also doing well for Vipers.
She said: “It is exciting I get to play for Vipers, but my goal is still to be able to play for England and now I am set-up to play for the Vipers and it gives me the security.
“There will be a 50-over competition and a 20-over competition with the Vipers and we were unbeaten last summer, so it would be great to follow in the same footsteps.”
As well as playing high-level cricket, Bell is studying Criminology and Sociology at Loughborough University and she tries to work both into her routine.
She said: “University is challenging at times, but the majority of my course is online so I can catch up on it when I am not playing cricket.
“I am back home now and I will be able to train with the Vipers at Southampton and Brighton up until Christmas.
“Lockdown was hard because we couldn’t get into any training facilities, and I have recently had my first session back and it’s great to be able to train again.”