Lauren Bell confident changes to her bowling action will have long-term benefits

England bowler Lauren Bell believes “challenging” changes to her action and repertoire will benefit her career in the long term.

Bell claimed her first ever five-wicket haul in international cricket as England beat New Zealand by five wickets at Bristol to complete a 3-0 ODI series whitewash.

“It’s been a little bit challenging,” Bell told Sky Sports about the changes she has made to her bowling in recent weeks.

England Women v New Zealand Women – Third Women’s One Day International – Seat Unique Stadium
England’s Lauren Bell (centre right) celebrates taking the wicket of New Zealand’s Isabella Gaze (not pictured) at Bristol (Nigel French/PA)

“But I think as I go on with my career it will be one of the best things I’ve done.

“Since Durham (the first ODI at Chester-le-Street) I’ve made a few changes to the mental side of it.

“The skill’s there, it’s just applying it in a game and I managed to do that today.”

Bell was omitted from Sunday’s second ODI at Worcester after her three wicketless overs at Chester-le-Street cost 28 runs.

Handed a reprieve in a rain-reduced 42-over contest, Bell bounced back with figures of 9-0-37-5 and claimed the scalps of New Zealand’s best batters Amelia Kerr and Sophie Devine, who made 57 and 43 in the visitors’ 211 for eight.

Bell said: “They built partnerships really well, but I was pretty clear what was good on this wicket.

“My second spell when I came back on Heather (Knight, captain) said to me it was an important time to get a wicket, so I was really happy.”

England were in trouble at 72 for four in the 16th over with Knight, Tammy Beaumont, Maia Bouchier – who was named player of the series – and Sophia Dunkley back in the pavilion.

But Nat Sciver-Brunt shone with an unbeaten 76 from 84 balls and support from Amy Jones (50) and Alice Capsey (35 not out) guided England home by five wickets with 20 balls to spare.

England Women v New Zealand Women – Third Women’s One Day International – Seat Unique Stadium
England’s Nat Sciver-Brunt smashes a boundary during her unbeaten 76 against New Zealand (Nigel French/PA)

Knight said: “I’m really happy. We were put under pressure, the Kiwis bowled really well in the powerplay and they had a biggish partnership in the middle.

“We had to find a way to claw back momentum and I think we did that brilliantly.

“That partnership between Amy and Nat showed their maturity and experience in the game, the way they played to get us out of that tricky spot.

“It is really pleasing we’re able to win in different ways. We dominated the first two games, but the fact we were put under pressure and responded brilliantly with bat and ball is a really good sign.”

England Women v New Zealand Women – Third Women’s One Day International – Seat Unique Stadium
England’s Lauren Bell takes the plaudits after her career-best five-wicket haul against New Zealand (Nigel French/PA)

Star spinner Sophie Ecclestone and Lauren Filer both made way in the England attack ahead of a five-match T20 series with the White Ferns that starts in Southampton on Saturday.

Knight said: “Leaving Lauren out was tough the way she’s been bowling in the last few games.

“To see Belly come back was really pleasing, we spoke this morning (Wednesday) and she was pretty nervous.

“She’s been going through a bit of a rough patch and trying to work a few things out to better her game.

“To break that big partnership and take the key wicket of Sophie enabled us to take pressure back on to them.”