Not many professional cricketers can say they’ve been a part of the England Senior Women’s squad, even fewer for an Ashes Test Match. At the age of just 21 Old Bradfieldian Lauren Bell (J 17-19) is one of them.

She only left Bradfield a mere two and a half year ago, however, in that time this extraordinary young woman has achieved things most could only dream of. She signed a professional contract with the Southern Vipers, reached the final of the Kia Women’s Super League T20 competition twice, won the Rachael Heyhoe Flint 50-over competition two years running, played a starring role for losing finalists Southern Brave in the inaugural The Hundred, and all while reading for a degree in Sociology.

The news broke on social media and that’s when it really started to sink in.

The day after England drew the Test Match that kept their Ashes dream alive a little longer, Lauren joins me across time-zones on Zoom to discuss all of those achievements and how her time at Bradfield helped her realise her dream of becoming a professional cricketer. Where better to start than the “surreal” moment when she received her call up having initially been part of the England A squad on their tour.

“With the time difference, my family and everyone I would normally tell, were asleep so I didn’t really process it initially. Then the news broke on social media and that’s when it really started to sink in. When I finally spoke to my parents, obviously they were over the moon, but my mum was gutted that she couldn’t be at the match. She’s watched pretty much every game I’ve ever played.”




Swindon-born Lauren’s cricket career began taking shape when she made her senior County debut for Berkshire, when she was just 14. The same Captain who handed her that first cap was the same Captain calling Lauren up to the England squad for the first time seven years later. Heather Knight.

“Being a part of that team with Heather was incredible. She’s been supportive of me throughout my career, always checking up on me and chatting to me when I’ve been training around the England squad. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to build these relationships as I’ve worked my way up.”

She went on to take seven wickets in eight appearances that season and Lauren reveals she has her older sister to thank for her career. The sisters both played Academy football at Reading FC at primary school age before her sister joined Berkshire County Cricket Club in their Under 13s.

“I always watched training and was the little sister that wanted to join in. It wasn’t long before I was playing club cricket and then breaking into the same team as my sister at Berkshire. I enjoyed playing as much cricket as possible.”

Who knows where I would have gone with football but the Vipers Academy was such a big deal and that’s the way I went. It was definitely the right choice.

Progressing as a central defender for Reading and a specialist bowler at Berkshire, while also going through the rigours of GCSE studies became difficult to balance and after being offered a place in the Southern Vipers Cricket Academy, Lauren had to make a choice.

“I remember my parents saying it was the right time to choose between the two. Who knows where I would have gone with football but the Vipers Academy was such a big deal and that’s the way I went. It was definitely the right choice.”

Her upwards trajectory quickly catapulted her into the England Academy. Training three days a week she often missed school hours and with Lauren’s parents keen for her to achieve strong A Levels and her own desire to have a back-up plan away from cricket, the family began looking at new schools.

Boarding could offer her the flexibility and support to thrive in both sporting and academic worlds and, with the opportunity to play high level cricket for the school and become the first girl to play for the College’s 1stXI, Bradfield was the outstanding option.

“I knew the cricket was good there from my time at Berkshire. I always wanted to be treated like I was part of the team and all the boys made me feel welcome instantly. I loved playing my cricket on Pit.”


Choosing to study A Levels in Maths, her strongest GCSE subject, and PE, the obvious choice, she wasn’t sure which other A Level to study. Religious Studies offered a completely different type of subject and one in which Lauren excelled, achieving an A* and enjoying the philosophical side so much she went on to study Sociology at Loughborough. She credits the teachers and the school with helping her to develop a love of learning.

“One thing that I will always be grateful for, is how much Bradfield helped me to love education. I spent so much time outside of the classroom learning and having discussions with the teachers. It’s the reason I ended up going to university and I’m so glad I made that decision because I probably wouldn’t have gone if I hadn’t gone to Bradfield.”

As she prepared to embark on life at university Lauren began to really stake her claim in the Southern Vipers teams. She became a mainstay in the side throughout their run to the 2019 WSL final, putting in a match-winning performance in the semi-final as her natural pace and late inswingers ripped through the Loughborough Lightning top order.

“I remember someone said to me if I bowled like that again we would win the final and suddenly I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was the first time I had really experienced nerves and pressure. As I was so young, I was used to playing simply because I loved it.”

The final didn’t quite go to plan, but the young cricketer took it in her stride and the following year Lauren was an integral member of a dominant Vipers team which stormed to the inaugural Rachael Heyhoe Flint trophy.




Such was her success that she was offered a pro contract with the Vipers and drafted into the Southern Brave side for The Hundred, becoming a major part of the rapid growth in women’s sport which amassed a TV audience of almost 33 million people in 2021 across cricket, football and a number of other sports, according to Women’s Sport Trust figures.

“The Hundred was a blur”, recalls the bowler who is nicknamed ‘The Shard’ on account of her height. “The media was crazy and the crowds we got in were unbelievable.”

Lauren was one of the stars thanks to her knack of taking crucial mid-innings wickets, taking 14 wickets in total, the sixth most in the competition. As a runner up there was so much to look back on, but for Lauren there will always be one particular highlight.

“I was on a hat-trick ball at the Ageas Bowl in front of about 14,000 people. I’d got to the top of my mark and the whole crowd just started doing the classic build-up clap. Normally our focus is on the game, but I had to stop to take that in. It’s not every day you have 14,000 people clapping you in to bowl. I won’t ever forget that.”

It has already been a whirlwind 2022 for Lauren. Not only has she been writing her Sociology dissertation while being part of The Ashes tour, but there’s been more cause for celebration thanks to an extended stay ‘down-under’, after being named as a travelling reserve with the England World Cup squad. On top of contemplating a post-graduate Master’s degree what is this impressive young woman most looking forward to this year?

“I can’t wait for the summer and I think I’m most excited for The Hundred. Last year was incredible and I’m hoping it will be even bigger and better this year.”