HomeSportNext Gen: 'Stonehouse can go as far she wants to'

Next Gen: ‘Stonehouse can go as far she wants to’

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Alexa Stonehouse bowled Northern Superchargers’ Jemimah Rodrigues for her first Hundred wicketVenue: Trent Bridge, Nottingham Date: 19 August Times: 11:00 & 14:30 BSTCoverage: Ball-by-ball commentary on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website & app. Live text commentary with in-play video clips on the website and app. Watch the men’s game (14:30 BST) live on BBC Two, BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app.Throughout the 2023 Hundred, BBC Sport is running a feature series called England Next Gen, designed to look at players who may make the step up to international cricket in the next few years. Next up is Trent Rockets and South East Stars bowler Alexa Stonehouse.Left-arm seam bowling can be a vital part of a team’s armoury.Bowling over the wicket, a left-armer can disrupt right-hand batters by forcing them to alter their stance as the ball comes across them. The inswinger from around the wicket, meanwhile, can be a crucial component of powerplay and death bowling.They are a precious commodity, as an estimated 10% of the population are left handed. And for England, they are proving elusive.Step forward, Trent Rockets’ Alexa Stonehouse. At 18, and in her debut year, Stonehouse is opening the bowling for Trent Rockets in The Hundred. She has also tasted domestic success with Kent and South East Stars, as well as rising through the England youth ranks, having only played senior cricket for two years.It is little wonder she is being tipped as a future England star.”Left-arm seamers bring a slightly different dimension to the game,” Rockets coach Jon Lewis told BBC Sport. “As most of the women’s game is white-ball cricket, that different angle can be welcome. But Alexa can also swing the ball back into the right-hander.”She also has an appropriate aggressive streak in her and is comfortable going to her bouncer when she needs to, which is a good asset to have.”Stonehouse joined the South East Stars academy squad as a 16-year-old at the start of the 2021 season but was promoted to the senior side a few months later, helping them win the Charlotte Edwards Cup. She also was part the Kent side who won the South East Group in the Women’s Twenty20 Cup that same summer.The teenager was then signed up by Trent Rockets for the 2022 edition of The Hundred, but did not play a game, before signing her first professional contract with the Stars later that year.”She takes everything in her stride,” Stars team-mate and fellow left-arm seamer Tash Farrant told BBC Sport. “She’s young and has a lot to learn, but is not afraid to ask questions, be vulnerable and try things even if they aren’t 100%.”She almost has too many skills. She has every single ball under the sun. She wants to bowl bouncers, slower balls, yorkers, which is great. It is just knowing when to use what.”Her international progression has been equally rapid. She earned call-ups for both England Women A and the ECB Select XI in 2022, before making the England squad for the Under-19 World Cup in South Africa at the start of this year.She took six wickets in her five matches at an average of 11.33 as England made the final before losing to India.That progress has continued into this year’s Hundred, making her debut against Southern Brave, opening the bowling to Danni Wyatt and Smriti Mandhana, two of the biggest names in the women’s game.Another India superstar would become her first victim in her next match against Northern Superchargers, clean bowling Jemimah Rodrigues with an inswinging delivery from around the wicket.”It is a show of faith in Alexa,” added Lewis. “We had a couple of warm-up games and she wasn’t necessarily in our starting XI before those games but she performed well in those.”Most of the Hundred batting line-ups are top heavy, they have a lot of quality in that top four. So if you are bowling up front, you are bowling to good players all the time.”That’s a hell of a challenge for a young seam bowler. But she doesn’t mind who she is bowling to.”To be a swing bowler with the new ball, you have to be gutsy enough to pitch the ball where you will take wickets but it is also the areas where batters can hurt you.”She is doing well for us and getting better as the tournament progresses.”England’s current senior left-arm seam options, Farrant and Freya Kemp, have been struggling with injury, meaning the recent Ashes squad contained just one left-arm bowler in Sophie Ecclestone – a spinner.Another young left-armer, 17-year-old Mahika Gaur, is currently ahead of Stonehouse after being called up for the white-ball series’ against Sri Lanka. But a spot in the senior side may not be far away, if she can maintain her development.”She has all the attributes to be an international cricketer,” added Farrant. “But there are so many opportunities now, she may be one of the best franchise cricketers in the world as well.”She can take her career in what whatever way she wants to.”Lewis added: “I wouldn’t put a lid on what she can achieve.”She is very comfortable being her own character and that’s quite a strength. It is very easy to be one of the crowd. She is comfortable with who she is and stays true to that, which I quite admire.”She is still young, she can definitely swing the ball, she has a good bumper. These are great starting points.”She can go as far as she wants to.”

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