England vs Pakistan: Pace prodigy Lauren Filer speaks about rapid rise onto international scene

England’s Lauren Filer is hoping to improve her T20 skillset using different variations and length as she looks ahead to the Bangladesh World Cup; watch England face Pakistan in IT20 and ODI series live on Sky Sports Cricket, beginning on Saturday May 11 from 2pm

Image: Lauren Filer was awarded Player of the Match during England's series against Sri Lanka last year

A day before Lauren Filer stepped out onto the international scene, she had a dream that her first-ever ball would be a beamer.

Instead, the 23-year-old fast bowler trapped Australia great Ellyse Perry lbw. The decision was overturned on review but it did not matter for Filer because with the final ball of her third over she had Beth Mooney caught at gully.

It was clear that England had found someone special.

On day four of the Ashes Test last year, Filer led her team out at Trent Bridge. “It was very surreal,” she remembers. “I didn’t know it was happening until 10 minutes before the match started and everyone kept asking me if I was nervous and I told them I was fine.

“But when we were singing the national anthem I was like: ‘Wow, this is really happening,’ and for the first few overs I didn’t believe it.

“Once I had a feeling of the ball I was alright. I don’t think I will be able to relive that moment because it was so special.”

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Filer’s trajectory and pace continued to peak as she clocked 78.4mph during The Hundred and was named player of the series during her ODI debut against Sri Lanka in September.

With the women’s World Cup taking place in less than six months in Bangladesh, and more imminently, a multi-format white-ball series against Pakistan starting on Saturday, Filer is bracing herself to take to the stage once again.

Image: Tammy Beaumont presents Lauren Filer with her debut T20 cap during their series against New Zealand in April

“I’ve never played Pakistan and I haven’t really watched them much either so I think it will be a really interesting competition to see how we fend against them and vice versa,” said Filer.

“I’m trying to focus on the now but I know as a team this is definitely leading us to the Bangladesh World Cup and it would be silly to not think about it.

“Being with England for the last 10 months, I think I’ve improved by being able to have that experience against the international players and learning from the bowling, batting, and fielding coaches.

“You don’t always get that stuff in regional cricket. You do have some people there but here it is a lot more individualised. That’s been great.

“I’m a lot more accurate than I was and I’m just trying to keep my speed up and continue to improve. When I watch back the Ashes I can see that I was throwing a few down leg.

“I can’t wait to get back out on the pitch, it’s so great to wear an England shirt and being with the girls is just amazing.”

Image: England's pace bowler Lauren Filer leads out the team on day four of the Ashes

It’s in 50-over and Test cricket where the Bristolian feels her bowling style has the most impact but with a T20 World Cup on the horizon, Filer is determined to diversify her skills, particularly as the shorter format in the women’s game proliferates.

“T20 isn’t my strongest format so it’s nice to have the backing from (Jon) Lewis and (Heather) Knight,” added Filer.

“It’s such a lovely environment to be a part of so anytime you get a call-up, whether it’s 50-over or T20, it always fills me with joy.

“In terms of favourites, Test cricket and 50-over come very close. With a Test match, it’s very up or down, you either love it or hate it.

“As someone with a bit of pace, it’s harder to control where the ball goes in T20 cricket whereas in the longer format, I have more time and people don’t really play eccentric shots.

Image: England's Lauren Filer (second left) celebrates taking the wicket of Australia's Ellyse Perry during day one of the first Women's Ashes Test match at Trent Bridge

“I’m starting to love T20 cricket more and more but 50-over and Test cricket have a special place in my heart.

“I need to use more variations in my T20 game. I’ve worked hard on getting accuracy at a point where I think it would hold up and now it’s about using length variations with yorkers or bouncers to manipulate my bowling.

“It’s one of those things where you just have to keep practising because if you think it’s going to go wrong, it probably will.

“We’ve worked on my length and variations quite a lot so if I play hopefully you’ll see some.”

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has already sold over 75,000 tickets for the Pakistan series and upcoming New Zealand tour in the summer, which is more than what they sold this time last year – which included an Ashes tour.

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For Filer, who gathers momentum from the energy of the crowd, she is looking to use this to her full advantage.

“It just shows you how amazing the trajectory of women’s sport is and how popular it’s becoming,” Filer said, smiling.

“The Ashes last year was incredible. I heard so much talk about the Edgbaston crowd and it means the world to us as players because it means we’re attracting people to watch the game.

“Whether that’s people who have watched the game for years or new families coming in, it means a great deal to have that support because you don’t always get that in regional cricket.

“I remember one of the games during The Hundred I looked up at the screen and it said 15,000 people were there and I was taken aback.

“Sometimes you get lost in the game and have tunnel vision but when you take a wicket you realise how loud the crowds can be.

“I love the noise. At Trent Bridge, during the Ashes, my legs were so tired and then everyone was clapping and cheering and it helped me to push on.

“Obviously, when you’ve dropped a catch and you hear booing then that can be harder. I haven’t experienced that yet and touch wood I don’t.”

England white-ball squads to face Pakistan

England IT20 squad: Heather Knight (captain), Lauren Bell, Maia Bouchier, Alice Capsey, Charlie Dean, Sophie Ecclestone, Lauren Filer, Danielle Gibson , Sarah Glenn, Bess Heath, Amy Jones, Freya Kemp, Nat Sciver-Brunt, Linsey Smith, Danielle Wyatt

England Women Metro Bank ODI squad Heather Knight (captain), Tammy Beaumont, Lauren Bell, Maia Bouchier, Alice Capsey, Kate Cross, Charlie Dean, Sophie Ecclestone, Lauren Filer, Sarah Glenn, Amy Jones, Nat Sciver-Brunt, Danielle Wyatt

A year ago, though, this level of success seemed unlikely for Filer who was sacked from her job due to playing so much cricket but it’s a memory that, thankfully, brings out laughter and not tears.

“It was cricket’s fault that I got sacked!” said Filer. “Within a few months, a lot changed quite quickly and I was playing a lot more cricket suddenly.”

Watch England Women face Pakistan in T20I and ODI series live on Sky Sports Cricket, beginning on Saturday May 11 from 2pm.

Women’s Vitality IT20 Series vs Pakistan fixtures – live on Sky Sports

May 11: 1st Women’s IT20 – Edgbaston, Birmingham, 2.30pm
May 17: 2nd Women’s IT20 – The County Ground, Northampton, 6.30pm
May 19: 3rd Women’s IT20 – Headingley, Leeds, 1pm

Women’s Metro Bank One-Day International Series vs Pakistan fixtures – live on Sky Sports

May 23: 1st Women’s One-Day International – The Incora County Ground, Derby, 1pm
May 26: 2nd Women’s One-Day International – The Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton, 11am
May 29: 3rd Women’s One-Day International – The Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford, 1pm

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