Bell caps memorable 2023 with ICC nomination and aims to ‘inspire and entertain’ as England prepare for World Cup in September
Former Hungerford and Berkshire bowler Lauren Bell says 2023 will go down as one of the best years of her career after she was nominated for the ICC emerging cricketer of the year award.
The fast bowler took 22 international wickets as England reached the semi-final of the T20 World Cup in South Africa and came from 6-0 down to draw a memorable Ashes series with Australia, took three wickets in the final as Southern Brave lifted The Hundred for the first time and travelled Down Under to represent Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash.
And the seamer, who turned 23 earlier this month, admits 2023 was a big year for her as she looks to establish herself as one of cricket’s foremost fast bowlers.
“It’s definitely one of the best years of my career,” she said.
“I got to play in my first World Cup, my first Ashes and win The Hundred. To top it off with the ICC nomination is fantastic.
“It’s been an amazing year and I’ve made a lot of good memories.”
Bell, who is one of four nominations for the ICC award, played in every game of a captivating Ashes as England recovered from losing the Test and the first T20 to win four of the final five matches and draw the series.
The talented quick, who is nicknamed The Shard as a result of her height, took 14 wickets in the series as England matched the Aussies – who have held the famous urn since 2015 and are widely regarded as one of the best teams of the modern era – in a momentous summer, with record crowds watching on television and stadiums selling out for the white-ball matches.
Bell, who was also an integral part of the England side that reached the last four of the World Cup in February, admitted that the Ashes felt like a landmark occasion for women’s cricket.
She said: “It was crazy, that’s the only way I can describe it.
“The one thing that stood out to me about the Ashes was the support we got from the crowds.
“Our mantra as a team is to inspire and entertain and it felt like we were able to do that more than ever before.
“We had a lot of young, aspiring cricketers and a lot of women and girls – I think that meant more to us than anything.
“It was very special to be a part of and it felt like a big step forward for women’s cricket.”
The Ashes were something of a coming-of-age for Bell and fellow young seamers Issy Wong and Lauren Filer, who were leading the line following the retirement of Katherine Sciver-Brunt, who played more than 250 internationals and helped England lift three World Cups.
Bell opened the bowling alongside the more experienced Kate Cross in the Test and was often thrown the ball at the death in the ODI and T20 series, impressing with her characteristic mix of pace, bounce and swing.
“The more experience I get in pressure situations at the top level, the better bowler I’ll become,” she said.
“I relish the responsibility I’ve been given in an England shirt because it makes me feel like the coach and captain have confidence in me.
“Hopefully I have a lot more to come.”
Bell took three wickets – removing two of the top three batters – as Southern Brave beat Northern Superchargers to win The Hundred for the first time in the final game of legendary captain Anya Shrubsole’s career.
Bell, who was also part of the Southern Vipers squad that achieved a domestic double, took nine wickets in seven matches in the franchise competition.
The right-arm fast bowler said helping Brave to the title ranked alongside the Ashes in terms of her achievements last year.
She said: “The Ashes and The Hundred were the highlights of my year.
“We made the final two years in a row and to finally win it on the third attempt was pretty special.
“Being Anya’s last game made it even sweeter. It’s one of those things you’ll remember for the rest of your career.”
Bell was back on England duty before Christmas as Jon Lewis’ side travelled to India. The tourists were resoundingly beaten by 347 runs in the one-off Test but recovered to win the T20 series 2-1, with Bell picking up a further five wickets.
“It was the first time I’d played in India, so I think any experience like that can only be a good thing,” she said.
“Our coach Lewy (Jon Lewis) always says that beating Indians in India is one of the hardest things to do in cricket, so we took a lot of positives from winning the T20 series.”
Prior to meeting up with the England squad for a warm weather training camp in Oman ahead of the Test in Mumbai, Bell made her debut in Australia’s Big Bash with Sydney Thunder.
Bell, who was also part of the UP Warriorz squad in the inaugural Women’s Indian Premier League, played two matches in the lime green of Thunder and hailed her stint in Sydney as another valuable experience.
She said: “I loved the Big Bash.
“The girls were great, the tournament’s amazing and I learned a lot. I had the best time.”
Bell and her England teammates can now turn their attention to white-ball series against Pakistan and New Zealand in preparation for the T20 World Cup, which takes place between September and October in Bangladesh.
“You go into any World Cup with one aim, and that’s to win the entire thing,” she said.
“I think if we play the brand of cricket we’ve been working on over the last 12 months then I think we’ll put ourselves in the best possible position to give ourselves a good chance.”