Perse cricketer delighted to make Essex debut
12 Aug 2020
Picture: Kieran Galvin
Talented cricketer Bella Howarth (Year 10) has made her 1st XI debut for Essex women’s team at the age of just 15.
Bella played for Essex as they lost by 10 wickets in their final London Championship match of the season away to a strong Kent side featuring internationals such as England’s Tash Farrant and Scotland star Sarah Bryce.
Despite the result, Bella was thrilled to be handed her chance to play for one of the leading county sides.
She said: “I was definitely very excited to have been picked to play. However, I still get super nervous even if I am the youngest player with little expectation on my shoulders. Thankfully, there were many experienced players in the team who helped and supported me on my debut.
“I was definitely very inspired by the professionalism by the 1st XI captain Kelly Castle in the pre and post-game team talks. With that being said, Kent are one of our biggest rivals so everyone was extremely focused and professional.
“Kent are probably the strongest side in the country in women’s cricket and they definitely proved that on the day. Playing against them showed me the standard I need to achieve if I want to go further. It was definitely a learning experience for me and I will try to take the professionalism that was shown on the day into age-group cricket.”
Bella fell into playing cricket almost by accident after going along each week with her parents to High Roding CC while her older brother Henry took part in training sessions.
She said: “I began to get involved instead of just watching. It started with throwing a tennis ball around or hitting with a plastic bat, but in no time at all I found myself a part of those training sessions.”
Although she was initially the only girl at the club, Bella went on to captain the boys’ team and aged just nine, she was selected for the Essex girls’ development squad, making her debut for the county U11 team against Kent in 2015.
Bella continued to progress through the Essex age group teams before going on to earn a place in the East Region Academy (ERA). During last year’s ERA tour to Malvern, she hit her record score of 134 against Derbyshire. Earlier this year, Bella successfully trialled for the new Eastern Sunrisers Academy, made up of players from nine different counties across the region.
She has also enjoyed success with The Perse, helping the U15 team to third and fourth place finishes in the Lady Taverners indoor finals at Lord’s, and Thriplow CC, playing a part in their U15 girls’ team reaching the Lady Taverners national finals last year.
Bella counts England Test legends Ian Botham and David Gower among her favourite cricketers as “they both had very different styles of play, which is what I love about cricket. There is not just one correct way to play.”
Her ambition is also to play for England, but she must first earn a regular place in the full Eastern Sunrisers regional squad to help get a step closer. Bella said: “I’m on the right track, but I have a lot more training and hard work ahead if I’m going to be successful.
“The great thing is that as women’s cricket is growing so quickly, there seems to be new opportunities arising all the time. We now have more full-time female professionals than ever and that number is always growing.”