Heather Knight column: 'I hope we've learned from India'

Heather Knight

We kick off our Sri Lanka one-day international series on Saturday. It's not that long since we were out here last - it was when we secured qualification for the 2017 ICC Women's World Cup, and hopefully we'll be able to replicate that series result.

We feel in a good place at the minute. We've got cricket behind us and we're in the habit of winning - having come out on top in our past four games - and we'll hope to use that in this series.

Sri Lanka are a good side, though, and we would never underestimate them. Their form of late has been decent, with some impressive showings against India and South Africa, so they'll go into the series with a bit of belief.

We have to control what we can control and play our best cricket. We've got a lot of talented cricketers in this dressing room who'll all be keen to show what they can do across this series.

Learning from India

It's nice to have a bit of momentum behind us. We didn't start the India tour how we wanted - and obviously we didn't get the ODI series result we went there to get - but I was happy with how we came back from that.

We probably could have done with more preparation in India. It's so difficult because time is always a factor - and this was always going to be a long tour - but increasingly in the women's game, I think you'll see two warm-up games becoming the norm.

We don't want to use that as an excuse, though. It was massively disappointing because we didn't start well and just didn't play well enough. We always seemed to lose wickets at crucial times but I hope we learned and took something away from those two defeats.

That said, the character and resilience to win the final ODI and then win all the Twenty20 internationals was so impressive. We've done that a lot as a side and it does reflect really well on the spirit and fight within the camp. I hope we can keep that going.

England celebrate a wicket during the game against the Sri Lanka Emerging team
England beat a Sri Lanka Emerging Team by 153 runs in their warm-up game on Wednesday

Fingers Cross-ed in tight finale

We've had our fair share of dramatic and tight matches across the past two years but that final T20 was something else. We always knew we were in the game - we believe we can win from anywhere - but defending three runs from the final over never feels easy.

You have to gamble a bit with the field in those situations and Kate Cross held her nerve brilliantly to finish off a great display from all the bowlers.

It was a great end to our tour of India and said so much about us as a side. I was delighted for Crossy but it wasn't just about her - Danni Wyatt did really well across the series and all the bowlers did their bit at different times.

Wildlife and football drama

Heather Knight and Sophia Dunkley on safari
Heather Knight and Sophia Dunkley on safari

Most tours we go on are dominated by Netflix. This one has been a bit more about elephants.

We had an amazing day trip in Assam during the T20 series, during which we managed to see rhinoceros and elephants and - as I write this on the way to the ground in Hambantota - we've just passed another three elephants in five minutes!

I'm glad the elephants like it outside because it's probably the most humid place in the world - we've been keeping the laundry people busy at the hotel.

Our safari wasn't the only off-field activity.

In Assam we went to watch North East United play in the Indian Super League semi-final. We inspired them to a dramatic 2-1 victory in the home leg of their semi-final, but sadly the second leg didn't go their way.

It was an amazing night at the game, though. We travelled in and out on the team coach and I think a few fans might have thought we were the footballers! A few of us managed to take some shirts away as souvenirs as well. Maybe I'll watch another North East United game one day, you never know.

Heather Knight and colleagues at North East United match
North East United were beaten 4-2 on aggregate by Bengaluru

Birthday parties and lizards

I've also got to take my hat off to Lauren Winfield and Sophia Dunkley. They organised a joint birthday party for Linsey Smith and Tammy Beaumont in Colombo.

Lauren had obviously learned from her mum, Janice, because it was essentially a child's birthday party - with all the games you'd expect - but it was absolutely brilliant. It also featured cake and that's always good.

What's less good - and not on the same level as the elephants on the side of the road - is the other wildlife you encounter in amazing countries like this. On Thursday night, Laura Marsh had to ring reception because a lizard had decided to make its base in her room. She wasn't best pleased.

I'm hoping she can use that as inspiration for the first ODI and that it can help us get the win and two ICC Women's Championship points in the bag!

England women's team celebrate the birthdays of Lauren Winfield and Sophia Dunkley
England play ODIs in Hambantota and Katunayake before returning to Colombo for the T20 series

Heather's Pride

On International Women's Day we launched a great campaign that I'm really excited about. We're giving 11 young girls from 7-11 the chance to come and train with us.

We're on the lookout for some good, young players so you never know - this could be your chance. Plus, you can come and tell Mark Robinson why he should be picking you in a few years' time!

We're working alongside the nine counties who are hosting us this summer, so check out the hashtag #HeathersPride or visit the ECB website.external-link