Lauren Bell makes dream start on England debut
Former Berkshire and Hungerford bowler Lauren Bell took two wickets in the first innings of her England Test debut against South Africa at Taunton this week.
Bell removed Lizelle Lee and Marizanne Kapp to finish with impressive figures of 2-47 from 16 overs as South Africa were dismissed for 284.
Bell was one of four debutants to receive her cap before the toss on Monday, June 27 – she becomes the 164th woman to represent England in Tests.
The former St Bart's student showed no signs of nerves as she dismissed Lee in the 18th over with a trademark in-swinger that trapped the experienced South African lbw.
Bell then rounded off the innings with the prize wicket of Kapp, who was out for a magnificent 150.
Bell featured alongside fellow debutants Alice Davidson-Richards, Emma Lamb and Issy Wong in a new-look England side.
Bell first played cricket while at Hungerford Primary School through the ECB’s Chance to Shine programme.
Together with Wong, she becomes the first of the initiative’s participants to represent England.
As part of National Cricket Week, 1,000 current Chance to Shine participants attended Taunton to watch the test.
Katherine Brunt, England’s third highest wicket-taker in women’s tests, and Anya Shrubsole, Bell's teammate at Southern Vipers, have both retired from internationals this year, opening the door for Bell and Wong.
England then declared on 417/8 thanks to hundreds from Nat Sciver and Davidson-Richards, with a lead of 133.
The rain dampened England's hopes on the afternoon of day three – the conditions meant almost half the day's play was lost – but South Africa were 55/3 at the close, still 78 runs behind England.
Bell and her teammates will believe a win is a realistic ambition today, the final day of the test, but it will require a flurry of quick wickets this morning.
Bell has so far bowled 10 economical overs for 15 runs in South Africa's second innings. With overcast conditions at Taunton that should lend itself to swing, a wicket doesn't seem too far away.
It's been a dream start for Bell so far – the journey from Bulpit Lane to the big time continues.