England coach Jon Lewis says it was worth the risk of picking some untried players in the Twenty20 international series defeat to Sri Lanka.

The tourists claimed a historic victory after winning the decider at Derby by seven wickets, thanks to Chamari Athapaththu’s heroics.

Athapaththu took three wickets for 21 runs as the hosts were bowled out for 116 before hitting 44 to fire her side to victory, which sealed a memorable 2-1 series success.

It meant that England lost a T20 series to a team other than Australia for the first time since 2010, while also losing a first-ever white-ball series to Sri Lanka.

On the back of the Women’s Ashes earlier in the summer, England used the opportunity to try some fresh blood in this series, with the likes of Mahika Gaur and Maia Bouchier given a chance and Lewis called it a “valuable exercise”.

“I learned a lot, a hell of a lot,” he said.

“Without going into specific individuals, I feel like we are on a journey as a team and we are trying to work out how we want to play and the mindset we want to go into each game with and which individuals are capable of doing that.

“You won’t find that out unless you expose them to international cricket.

“The decision-making before the series was very much around giving opportunity to players on the edge of our squad to try and learn about what they are capable of under pressure.

“It is a really valuable exercise for us. Obviously every time we do it we are taking a risk in terms of win-loss but what we are hopeful of is the opportunities we are giving the players will generate brilliant coaching conversations and understanding where every player is at.

“We are a developing team. We have three teenagers playing for us at the moment, which is fantastic. But they will go away from this experience learning what they need to improve their game.”

Captain Athapaththu was the star of her side’s historic triumph and said a series result like this had been coming.

“I am really happy with my performance and my team’s performance,” she said. “The last two tours in Bangladesh and New Zealand, we have played really good cricket and we have carried that on.

“Finally we have won – that is really good. Hopefully we can carry on this form in the ODIs.

“My bowling unit have done a really good job and the last couple of months our bowlers have done really well.”

Jon Lewis has opened the door for in-form Tammy Beaumont to force her way into England’s Twenty20 team before next year’s World Cup in Bangladesh.

Beaumont blitzed the first century in the women’s edition of the Hundred on Monday, smashing 118 off 61 balls for Welsh Fire, but she was only included in England’s ODI squad for the upcoming series with Sri Lanka on Friday.

England left Beaumont out of the T20 squad for the series with Sri Lanka, which begins on August 31, despite resting opener Sophia Dunkley.

Sophie Ecclestone will also sit out both series, while Danni Wyatt is only part of the T20 group and Nat Sciver-Brunt will only be involved in the ODIs but Lewis has preferred to give Maia Bouchier an opportunity in Dunkley’s absence.

He explained: “Obviously Tammy is playing fantastically well and I am really pleased with how she is playing.

“We had to make a choice around who would open the batting with Danni Wyatt.

“Maia Bouchier has been our travelling reserve for that whole time, so my view on that was Maia deserves that opportunity.

“I suppose on Tammy, and I said this to her, we have a year now until we pick a World Cup XV and I want her to keep doing what she is doing.

“The door is definitely not shut on her to play T20 cricket for England.

“I know she is desperate to play and how hard she is working, but I just want to try to develop the rest of the team to give us as many options as we can to put pressure on everyone who would be normally selected in the XI.

“I think Tammy is OK with the decision; I don’t think she is particularly happy but she understands if she continues to push her case, then she may well get the opportunity down the line but Sophia and Danni have done a fantastic job for us.

“I know what Tammy will do against Sri Lanka and I don’t know what Maia will do, so I am really interested to see how she goes because we’ve been carrying her around the world.”

England’s decision to manage the workload of Dunkley, Wyatt, Sciver-Brunt and Ecclestone has resulted in maiden call-ups for Mahika Gaur and Bess Heath.

Fast bowler Gaur has committed her international future to England after being selected in both white-ball squads.

The 17-year-old has represented United Arab Emirates in 19 IT20s but is set to make her debut for England after a fine summer where she helped North West Thunder make the Charlotte Edwards Cup Finals Day.

Heath hit 41 for England A against Australia A earlier this summer and is selected in both groups following a consistent run of form.

“I wouldn’t call it experimental. I would say it is exciting, young and fresh,” Lewis insisted.

“We have a year now until the World Cup and I am trying to work out which players we need to take to Bangladesh and it will be interesting to see how these young players do.

“Obviously Mahika is an exciting young talent. Six foot tall, left-arm swing bowler, that is very, very rare in the women’s game and unique.

“We have looked at all our options with the new ball around the country and we like what she offers.

“Will she play all the games? Probably not but we’d like to see what she can do and she is very much one for the future.

“Getting her playing cricket for England sooner rather than later is something we want to do to show her we like what she does and can help her develop.”

Jon Lewis insisted optimism is higher than ever within the England dressing room despite defeat in the lone Test leaving them with an uphill struggle in the Women’s Ashes.

Australia’s 89-run triumph at Trent Bridge handed them a 4-0 points lead, meaning England have to win at least four and more likely five of the six white-ball matches to prevail in the multi-format series.

The last time England beat Australia when the Ashes was still in the balance was in October 2017 – they also won twice the following month and in July 2019 but those games were effectively dead rubbers.

History might be against them but England head coach Lewis believes many of his players see Australia, the ODI and T20 world champions and Commonwealth Games gold medallists, through a different lens.

“I think the belief has grown,” Lewis said. “We came in with a little bit of unknown and trepidation, not quite sure how things were going to pan out.

“Four or five players reflected to me that one of the biggest things they’ve learned is how close they are to beating this Australia side.

“We played some really exciting cricket across the five days and Australia just did it for a little bit longer and a little bit better. But we’re encouraged by that performance.

“I know it sounds strange when we lost the game but I can really sense the belief in the dressing room that we can win both white-ball series.”

Lewis – who worked briefly as a bowling coach for the England men’s side under Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes – and captain Heather Knight have tried to foster a more proactive mindset in recent months.

Knight lamented England had been “too aggressive” in their pursuit of wickets in Australia’s second innings which ultimately allowed the tourists to get to a total that was out of reach.

“I don’t think (Heather) was too aggressive at all,” Lewis said. “We could have executed our skills better. What happened is the girls just tried too hard, which can happen in games of multi-day cricket.

“Is that the thing that cost us the game? I don’t think so. We said we were going to take the game on at every opportunity and at times you have to absorb pressure from the opposition in long games.

“I couldn’t be happier with the mindset the girls went out to play with.”

England have little time to lick their wounds with the first of three T20s – each worth two points, the same as the three ODIs that follow – at Edgbaston on Saturday evening.

While Lauren Filer made an impression on international debut as her pace troubled Australia’s batters at Nottingham, her inexperience and raw ability means she is unlikely to be included in the T20 squad.

“She’s left a couple of scars on the Australian team,” Lewis said. “I think she’s really well suited to Test cricket – being able to bowl multiple short balls and to have the field a bit more spread.

“You’ve got to remember she’s 22 years old, I don’t know how many games of cricket she’s played, I can’t imagine it’s many more than 20-25 in her professional career.”

Similarly, Tammy Beaumont’s exclusion from the sprint format team – she was dropped last year because of a 108.37 strike-rate – seems set to continue despite a historic double century at the weekend.

However, Lewis added: “She’s moved very much further forward in our thinking. Tammy’s really turning the screw on everyone in this side because she’s pretty vocal that she wants to play T20 cricket.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.