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    Lauren Bell talks about retiring from the WPL, taking responsibility, and inspiring England's next fast bowler
Lauren Bell talks about retiring from the WPL, taking responsibility, and inspiring England's next fast bowler
Lauren Bell has become one of the leaders of England's bowling attack in all formats since her debut in 2022. Source: Getty Images

Lauren Bell talks about retiring from the WPL, taking responsibility, and inspiring England's next fast bowler

Lauren Bell's international career has reached new heights in a short time.

In just seven months, the 23-year-old fast bowler played in her first World Cup, secured a Women's Premier League contract in India, and participated in a record-breaking Ashes campaign.

However, the rapid growth of women's cricket, including Bell's own success, has resulted in her facing difficult decisions regarding her commitments.

With the franchise circuit gaining more influence and financial backing, Bell made the decision to withdraw from this year's WPL, joining her captain Heather Knight, in order to focus on the ongoing New Zealand series. Despite this, some of her international teammates chose to remain in India with England's approval.

Bell's deal with UP Warriorz was worth around £30,000 but with the T20 World Cup coming up in September and an Ashes series away from home in early 2025, her full attention is on representing her country.

Bell explained:

"It was a hard decision. I love India, I loved my time at the WPL last year. But at this stage of my career, I just wanted to focus everything on getting ready for this New Zealand series and playing for England because it's all I've ever wanted to do. Hopefully, in the future, there will be more opportunities to go to the WPL without any clashes."

Following the disappointing T20 World Cup in South Africa in February, where England was knocked out by the hosts in the semi-final, the team made a strong comeback in front of packed crowds and record audiences against the world-dominating Australia.

Bell was a standout performer, taking 14 wickets across the seven Ashes matches that spanned three formats. Although this achievement may not have grabbed the headlines, it is important to note that fast bowling is about much more than just numbers.

Bell was the only specialist fast bowler to play every game of the series. Judging a player's performance depends on their presence, consistency, and skill. It is noteworthy that Bell met all these criteria.

Kate Cross is England's most experienced seamer but Bell has quickly emerged as the second-in-command among a growing number of young fast bowlers, while all-rounder Nat Sciver-Brunt's bowling has recently been limited by a knee injury.

Ahead of the autumn World Cup, the White Ferns return to the UK for a series against Pakistan in May.

Bell and the England team are committed to their influence on the game and as role models to wider society. Along with coach Jon Lewis, they aim to build upon the success of last summer's Ashes.

The team is doing well, with 62,000 tickets already sold for this summer's fixtures, a 10% increase from this time last year in 2023.

Bell remains positive despite the increased pressure that comes with more exposure to the women's game's growing status.

Bell is fulfilling the potential she showed as a tall, ambitious teenager, with her trademark plaits and infectious love of the game.

She has had a breakout year and is now ready for more.

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