TEENAGE cricket star Sophia Smale says she has even greater desire to succeed in international cricket after helping Engalnd to the final of the U19 T20 World Cup in South Africa.

The 18-year-old Haberdashers’ Monmouth student claimed eight wickets for 77 runs throughout the tournament at an average of 9.62 as the Three Lions fell just short against a strong Indian side in the final.

“It was a brilliant experience and I loved being on tour,” said Sophia, who is sitting A levels in PE and Religious Studies this summer and also took two wickets in the two warm-up matches.

“It was disappointing to lose to India, who had had some tough games during the tournament, but it was such a fantastic experience to play in a World Cup final.”

The left-arm spinner returned best-bowling figures of 3-11 against Ireland, with a competition economy rate of just 4.27, as England shone in the Super Six stage and topped their group to storm into the semi-finals.

She was part of a thrilling comeback in the last-four as England, bowled out for 99, claimed a remarkable three-run win after dismissing Australia for 96.

That put England into the final of the inaugural tournament but India hit top form to secure a seven-wicket triumph after bowling the Three Lions out for 68 in 17.1 overs, despite Sophia scoring 11 towards the end of the innings.

The Year 13 student said: “I am not trying to make any excuses or take anything away from India, but we did not really get challenged until the semi-finals – and that probably didn’t do us any favours.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t learn from our mistakes with the bat against a very strong Australian side and I think India were a bit more battle-hardened than we were, having played tougher group games.

“It wasn’t the result that we had all worked hard for, but I think we can learn from it and come back stronger.

“To wear the Three Lions shirt was special and to have my family with me, made it an even more incredible experience.”

Last summer, Sophia dazzled for Oval Invincibles in The Hundred and took eight wickets as she helped her side to win the women’s final at Lord’s screened live on the BBC.

And looking ahead, she has signed a contract with Western Storm, the professional women’s team that represents South-West England and Wales.

Last year, Sophia became the first female cricketer in history to play for Monmouth School for Boys’ 1st team and also won the Coaches Player of the Year award in the Western Storm Academy.

She was also part of Team Sciver, which won a gold medal at the School Games National Finals at Loughborough.

Sophia added: “I felt that I bowled well at times during the World Cup. It’s a learning experience and it has made me even more determined and focused to work even harder to reach the top and succeed in women’s cricket.”