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New Zealand women v England women 2024

What is England Women’s fast-bowling pecking order?

Mahika Gaur, Lauren Bell, Lauren Filer split image of three of England's fast-bowling prospects
by Katya Witney 4 minute read

England Women have tried and tested a variety of options in their pace bowling department over the last two years, with varying degrees of success.

Since Anya Shrubsole announced her retirement from international cricket in April 2022, 10 pace bowlers have featured in white-ball matches for England. That list doesn’t include Katherine Sciver-Brunt, who announced her international retirement last summer. When Jon Lewis took over the job as England’s head coach, part of the appeal of his tenure was his skill in managing a largely young and raw group of fast bowlers through the early part of their careers.

But, while there have been successful integrations into the white-ball sides for some, others have struggled and appeared to fall by the wayside. With another T20 World Cup campaign six months away from beginning, it is a good point to take stock of which pacers are likely to be on the trip of those who’ve been in the running over the last couple of years, as well as look at those pushing to sneak into the pecking order.

The top tier

Of all the players whose international debuts have come since the 2022 World Cup, Lauren Bell’s has been the most seamless transition into a permanent fixture in all formats. No fast bowler has taken more T20I wickets for England over the last two years, and she played four of England’s games in the last T20 World Cup – rested for their final group stage match against Pakistan. Even with England likely choosing to field three spinners in Bangladesh, she will take one of the two specialist seam places.

As ever, Nat Sciver-Brunt’s position in the side will be integral to whether England are successful or not in Bangladesh. While her role with the bat takes precedence, it’s worth specifying that she allows England a depth of seam options in their attack alongside often three specialist spinners. With Bell and Sciver-Brunt locked in, that leaves one or at most two seamer spots in the XI, and potentially another place available in the squad.

Those still in the race

Lauren Filer and Danni Gibson were the two extra fast bowlers in England’s squad for the New Zealand T20Is.

Following an impactful entrance in the Ashes Test, Filer made an impression with eight wickets in the summer ODI series against Sri Lanka and shone against an India Women’s A side in the T20 format. However, she struggled in hostile conditions during the Test match in India and had a difficult start to the T20I series in New Zealand. She didn’t take a wicket in either of the two T20Is she played in during the series, and conceded 22 runs in the two overs she bowled in the first. Despite going wicketless, she was tighter in the final T20I and helped build significant pressure in the early and middle part of the innings. The pace that Filer has as her point of difference as well as her success last summer makes her an attractive option to provide some variety in England’s attack. But the potential slowness of the wickets in Bangladesh could negate that advantage.

Gibson played 12 T20Is since debuting against Australia last year. While she has struggled to make her mark with the bat as of yet, her bowling later in the innings was one of the key takeaways from the New Zealand series. With both her and Nat Sciver-Brunt finding a place in the XI for the final two T20Is, there’s a suggestion her role is seen as more than just Sciver-Brunt’s understudy.

Freya Kemp is also still in the running for a spot in the squad for Bangladesh, despite not featuring in England’s main squad in New Zealand. Having only been able to bowl in three T20Is in the last year, her role for England A in New Zealand has been limited to a batter only in an attempt to manage her workload following her back stress fracture. If she can sustain her fitness throughout the summer, she’ll give the selectors another option. As will Mahika Gaur, who looked promising against Sri Lanka last summer but struggled in the T20Is in India. She sat out the New Zealand series to complete her final year of A levels.

The outsiders

Those who are left fit into two categories. The ones who have fallen by the wayside and those who could mount a challenge to break into the contender group. Issy Wong hasn’t played a game for England since her only international appearance in 2023 against Sri Lanka and only featured in two Mumbai Indians games in the 2024 WPL. Although still part of England’s long-term plan going forward, the T20 World Cup seems too close for her return to international honours.

Freya Davies was part of England’s T20I-winning squad during the Ashes but didn’t feature in the starting XI after the first match of the series. Kate Cross was in England’s squad for the last T20 World Cup and featured against Sri Lanka last summer, but her role as a specialist ODI and Test senior player seems pretty ring-fenced.

As for those who could still mount a challenge to the main side, Tash Farrant is pushing for a recall to the main squad. She took five wickets in two matches on England’s A T20 series in New Zealand, having been sidelined with a back stress fracture over the summer. She’s also an experienced option to add to a largely very young seam bowling group. Another outside chance is Ryana MacDonald-Gay, who made her mark with eight wickets in the 2023 Hundred and is currently England A’s leading wicket-taker in New Zealand.

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