Lauren Filer takes pride in economy after fast start to New Zealand series

New Zealand

Lauren Filer insists that England will not be getting ahead of themselves in their ongoing ODI series against New Zealand, despite a comprehensive nine-wicket victory in the series opener in Durham. Nevertheless, she admits that the T20 World Cup in October, and her potential role on those slower wickets in Bangladesh, will be a factor in her preparations for the rest of the summer.

Filer, England’s fastest bowler, made her second ODI appearance of the summer on Wednesday, opening alongside Lauren Bell for the first time, with Kate Cross missing the series with an abdominal strain. She made a strong impact, bowling five powerplay overs for 18 and claiming the key early wicket of Suzie Bates, before passing the baton to England’s formidable trio of spinners, who claimed seven wickets between them in bowling New Zealand out for 156.

England’s openers, Tammy Beaumont and Maia Bouchier, then picked off the bulk of those runs in a 137-run stand spanning 17.2 overs, to extend the team’s recent dominance over New Zealand, whom they beat in six matches out of eight across white-ball formats on their tour of the country in March and April.

“We will definitely not underestimate New Zealand as a team,” Filer said on the eve of the second ODI in Worcester. “We know that they can hit a big ball and take wickets as well, so we’ve got to be careful. We don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves and throw everything at it, without actually thinking about it, but we’re just all up for our performance, and taking the momentum from the last game into the next one.”

Filer herself took particular pride in her economy-rate (3.60) in the Durham fixture. Despite having been told by Jon Lewis, England’s head coach, that wickets were the key thing that she could offer, and that going for a few extra runs did not matter in the grander scheme of things, she conceded just two boundaries and one wide in her pacy new-ball burst, and admitted that it gave her a lift to perform her primary role with gusto without maintaining an extra level of control.

“Lewy’s always told me that runs don’t matter as much,” Filer said. “But in Durham it was lovely to have that control. To only go at three and a half, it was really nice to see that on the scoreboard when when I turned around, because I wouldn’t have necessarily had that control this time last year.

It is evidence, Filer feels, of a greater understanding of her own game, and one that augurs well for a potential tweaking of her role at the World Cup, where there may be a greater need to mix up her lengths and paces to mitigate for the slower conditions.

“On the pitch we played on in Durham – and most of the pitches in England – the top of stumps is the best option,” she said. “With the slower pitches, I’ll be using that quicker ball, but then it’ll be about having slower balls or yorkers, and anything that grips into the pitch, and using them wisely. I didn’t feel like I needed to do that in the last game, but moving forward, I might be able to show what I could do.”

Filer’s raw pace, allied to her growing range of variations, means she could yet be deployed at the World Cup in a similar role to that which Jofra Archer performs for the men – with an impact at the top and tail of the innings, plus an ability to return in the middle of an innings if a breakthrough is required.

“I’d love to do what Jofra does,” she said. “Obviously he has a great amount of control and his slower balls take a lot of wickets. But I’m trying not to look too far ahead. I wouldn’t say I’ve had a specific role given to me yet, but we’ll see where we’re at closer to the time.

“I feel like I’ve worked quite hard on my accuracy, especially since my debut,” she added. “I think I’m in a good place with that. It’s about trying to move away from my stock ball and show my variations, and actually use them as a threat. When you come up against the best players, you’re not able to bowl the same ball all the time. So I’ll keep working on them until the World Cup.”

Filer admits there’s no guarantees of a central role at the World Cup, especially given the ubiquity of England’s spin trio of Sophie Ecclestone, Charlie Dean and Sarah Glenn. “It’s so hard as a seamer, you really want to play but you can’t push any of them out of the team,” she said. “They’re just absolutely world-class. Even if one of them doesn’t have the best day, the other two will come flying in with three or four wickets.

But whatever happens, Filer knows she’ll have the support of a dressing-room which she describes as “the best environment I’ve ever been in”.

“It’s just somewhere that you can be yourself,” she said. “As a team, we trust each other to do the things we do well, and that’s really important. Even on a day when it doesn’t go well, knowing that you’ve got the support of your team-mates when you come off the field, and a shoulder to cry on, that’s something really special, and something hopefully we can carry on throughout the years.”

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket

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