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.”
— Sri Lanka Cricket 🇱🇰 (@OfficialSLC) September 6, 2023
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.”