Lauren Bell: 'There's no going away from England's attacking approach'

Fast bowler focused on hitting the stumps, against Pakistan and in T20 World Cup

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
Lauren Bell takes a selfie with a fan during England's first ODI against Pakistan, England vs Pakistan, 1st women's T20I, Birmingham, May 11, 2024

Lauren Bell takes a selfie with a fan during England's first ODI against Pakistan  •  Getty Images

Lauren Bell has vowed to "attack the stumps" as a default approach, both against Pakistan for the remainder of England's T20I series, and as a means to combat Bangladesh's slow, low wickets in this winter's T20 World Cup, after coming through a rusty first spell at Edgbaston on Saturday to help seal her side's 53-run win with figures of 3 for 22.
Bell had not played any competitive cricket since the end of England's tour of New Zealand in April, and she initially struggled for rhythm, serving up two wides and two boundaries in a 12-run opening over that was more runs than Pakistan had conceded in claiming England's first four wickets of the match.
But she came back strongly at the back end of the powerplay to dismiss Gull Feroza for 17, then struck again in each of her next two one-off overs to help guard against the prospect of a significant upset. Speaking on the eve of Friday's second T20I in Northampton, Bell acknowledged that England's performance in that first match had had its flaws, but insisted it was their execution rather than intent that had been to blame.
"The fact that we were 11 for 4 and still got to 160 shows the depth in our team," Bell said. "Neither innings started the way we wanted them to start. But it just shows the depth and character of the team that we could come back and obviously we still ended up winning by 50-odd runs.
"That was my first game of the summer, so I was obviously a bit nervous and maybe a little bit rusty," she added. "I played a lot of cricket this winter, and when I came back from New Zealand, we felt my priority was to have a bit of extra rest. But there's so much still to play, and I'm really fortunate that I play all three formats, so I can't play every possible game."
With the squad's attentions already turning towards the T20 World Cup in October, Bell was adamant that the players would not allow one tricky day to cramp the aggressive approach that their head coach, Jon Lewis, has spent the last two winters instilling in them.
"That approach will never change, and I don't think the messaging will ever change," she said. "Taking the game on will always be Jon's message and I don't think he'll go away from that. That that's how we want to play and we are going to fail, probably, sometimes - but we're not going to go away from the way we want to play."
Under Lewis' guidance, Bell has grown into the role of England's attack leader, a process that began in earnest during last summer's Ashes, in which she claimed 14 wickets across all seven matches of the multi-format series, including vital spells in the series-levelling T20I leg. And even her most chastening moment of that campaign - a 26-run death over at the hands of Georgia Wareham at Southampton - has since been chalked up to experience, thanks to the faith that continues to be placed in her by the team management.
"The Ashes was a bit of a blur… obviously I had one game which was a very steep learning experience," she said. "But when I came out the back of it, I realised that I had a bit more responsibility in all three formats, and Heather [Knight] was handing me the ball in quite important times, so I guess I do take a lot of confidence from it.
"When you're backed by your captain and your coach, it's the best feeling you can have when you go onto a cricket pitch, knowing that you have the support and the backing of everyone. Jon is really clear on what my role is, it will always be to top and tail the innings. Before he came in, I was obviously in and out of the team a lot, so I feel like it's really pushing my game forward and giving me a lot of confidence."
Bell was forced to make a tricky decision this winter when she pulled out of her lucrative WPL deal with UP Warriorz to make herself available for the entire tour of New Zealand. But, she says, with so many options opening up for the women's game, and with the England team in the midst of a generational change, she knows where her priorities belong for the time being.
"We have so many seamers coming through, I want to keep leading this bowling attack," she said. "I feel really fortunate that I have so much cricket on offer to me, but it's just unrealistic to be able to play it all. I obviously wanted to go to the WPL. But my focus will be international cricket at the moment."
With the Bangladesh World Cup looming, Bell acknowledged there could have been lessons to glean from playing on the WPL's pitches instead of more seam-friendly wickets in New Zealand, but insisted she had no regrets about foregoing the experience.
"Obviously the girls who played in India, they got a chance to play against the best players in the world in subcontinental conditions, but we had a series in India before Christmas, and I went to the WPL the year before, so it's not going to be completely new to me," she said. "Even though we're not there yet, that doesn't mean that I can't start prepping for how it's going to be in Bangladesh, and what I really need to nail on before I get there."
And that, in essence, involves bowling straight and keeping the stumps in play - both when the World Cup begins, and in the coming games against Pakistan's batting line-up.
"The main message is just to look to take wickets, and to be really attacking," Bell said. "[Lewis] wants our first thought to be 'how am I going to get this player out?' 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. So it's about nailing our skills and working on a bit of consistency.
"Definitely, our plan is to hit the stumps as much as possible," she added. "We know against this [Pakistan] team, and when we get to Bangladesh, if we can bowl as straight as possible with any sort of lateral movement, I think we'll be really in the game. I didn't execute that in the powerplay [on Saturday], but it was my first game of the summer, so moving forward, we know what we need to do."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket