England captain Heather Knight still sees room for improvement from her side despite a bumper 2017 that included a triumphant Women’s World Cup campaign.
Knight feels England were not firing on all cylinders at last year’s competition on home soil, where they overcame a loss to India in their opening match to beat the same opponents in a Lord’s final that attracted a sell-out 26,500 crowd.
They were unable to regain the Ashes at the back end of last year but fought back from an 8-4 deficit to clinch a creditable 8-8 draw in the multi-format series, winning the final two Twenty20 contests which allowed them to hold on to top spot in the International Cricket Council rankings.
The two teams will renew hostilities in a sprint format tri-series in India later this month as they look towards November’s World T20 in the West Indies.
Knight admits the shortest international format was put on the backburner in last summer’s pursuit of 50-over glory but believes they will have to hit their straps quickly in India.
Knight told Press Association Sport: “I think we’ve got eight to 10 T20s internationally before that World Cup starts so it’s not a huge amount of games.
“As we haven’t played loads of T20 over the last year, we probably don’t know our best team at the moment. We’ve got to try and find out what that is quite quickly and that starts in this tournament.
“Players have got the chance to put their names forward and cement their places in that World T20 squad.
“We’ve still got so many areas where we can improve as a team, that’s the exciting thing.
“When we won the World Cup we probably didn’t play our best cricket so that’s something we’ll try to look to do.”
England will play three one-day internationals against India following the tri-series and announced a 16-strong squad for the tour on Wednesday.
Fast bowler Katherine Brunt’s back injury has precluded her involvement while the other notable omission is wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor, who is being rested.
Taylor returned from a year-long break due to anxiety issues to play a fundamental part in England’s World Cup success while she was an ever-present in the Ashes campaign.
But Knight revealed: “We saw the tour as an opportunity to rest her and make sure she’s right. She’s in a good place at the moment and we want that to continue as long as we can.
“Katherine’s had a bit of a back issue return and it wasn’t worth the risk taking her because we need her to be fit and ready for the rest of the year.”
The uncapped trio of Bryony Smith, Alice Davidson-Richards and Katie George have been called up, while Kate Cross, Tash Farrant and Amy Jones are all in contention to feature in England’s opening T20 fixture against Australia in Mumbai on March 23 after returning to the group.
Knight added: “Those players have really put their names forward and impressed over the last couple of months and it’s a chance for us to see where they’re at in terms of pulling on an England shirt.
“It gives us a chance to find out a little bit about some of the younger players and plan a bit for the future.”