“We’ve obviously rested a few senior players so that gives us a chance to give opportunities to few youngsters, and try and grow the pool of players that we’re picking from,” Knight said. “Maia deserves an opportunity because we’ve been carrying around for a long time and she’s been amazing in the Hundred as well.
“We want to see how these girls adapt to international cricket, how they are around the group, how they react to things. I think it’s really exciting. The more players that we can have, knocking down the door and keeping everyone on their toes … I think really good teams have that competition.”
The most exciting name on the squad-list, however, is Gaur, whose remarkable physical attributes, allied to her extreme youth, mark her out as a potential superstar of the future.
“She’s unique, a left-armer that’s actually six foot three, which is pretty mad,” Knight said. “I think she’s had a growth spurt since the first time I met her a couple months ago. She obviously brings that, and she’s got a pretty good action and swings the ball late.”
Knight confirmed that Gaur would be handed her England debut at some stage of the campaign, but acknowledged that, as captain, she would be obliged to ease her new recruit into the action and not expect too much, too soon.
“She’s obviously very young, so we’ll have to manage her pretty carefully and make sure we’re looking after her as a person and as a cricketer,” Knight said. “Younger players coming in adds that freshness, and tests my skills as a captain.
“She’s certainly exciting, but I don’t know her super well, so I’ll just try to keep her calm, really, and do the things she’s done domestically that have been so impressive.
“It always feels different internationally. There’s more pressures, more scrutiny. So it’s about how they cope with that and just trying to play the cricket that we want them to play, that fits in with the team.”
“That [series] felt like a real watershed moment,” Knight said, adding that the challenge for her players now was to keep moving forward, given that Australia’s world-beating team will doubtless be seeking their own improvements ahead of the World Cup, after being run so close this summer.
“With the World Cup a year away, Australia and other teams are going to be looking to get better and improve. There’s a lot of areas that we can still get better in, come Bangladesh in October next year, so this is the start of that that post-Ashes cycle.”
Despite the absence of some big-name players, Knight insisted that England would not be taking Sri Lanka lightly, especially in light of their impressive display in the last T20 World Cup in February, where they beat the hosts and eventual finalists, South Africa, in their opening match at Newlands.
“They’ve just beaten New Zealand for the first time ever too, so they’ll be pretty confident and on a high from that,” Knight added. “They’ve got a world-class better in [Chamari] Athapaththu, who can be really hard to stop when she gets going. And they’ve got some wily spinners in the middle so we’ve certainly been preparing for that as a batting group.
“We’ve obviously rested a few players but that’s not because we’re taking Sri Lanka lightly. But that World Cup is our next big focus, and you don’t always get the opportunity to be able to try new players. We saw this, at the back end of a pretty busy summer, as a chance to do that.”
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket