Commonwealth Games Netball: Anita Navin blogs on the squads final preparation
Who has played their cards right and dropped the ace in the build up to the 2014 CWG...
By Anita Navin
Last Updated: 21/07/14 12:22pm
It isn't just the England Commonwealth Games squad crossing Hadrian's Wall this weekend but Jamaica, Australia, New Zealand and the plenty of officials will travel from England too.
Let's take a look at the build up around the CWG Netball competition.
Jamaica have tactically played their ace card in the build up to the friendly games by electing to go into a holding camp at Northumbria University alongside the umpire conference, where all those officials about to take charge of what will be one of the tightest netball competitions for over two decades have been training.
Jill McIntosh the insightful ex- Aussie coach is at the helm for Jamaica and will be the coach making those selection decisions as the games commence. McIntosh firmly believes her squad can outwit all opponents as long as they get out of bed on the right side and wake up with the positive frame of mind to perform at their best. Her dilemma is where to place the two most powerful GS athletes in her squad, and with Jhanelle Fowler and Romelda Aiken both driving forces in the ANZ, she will certainly want both on court.
We might see Aiken at GA or even in defence. At this point, McIntosh will no doubt have the measure of any idiosyncrasies each individual umpire may have from time taken after a goal to the restart at the centre pass, to the eye for the contest and most of all, their overall assessment of the rights and wrongs of her squad. This may prove to be a very smart move by McIntosh and the Jamaican squad to offer their services for match play as they make their move of attack on the top three nations in the world.
McIntosh firmly believes her squad can outwit all opponents as long as they get out of bed on the right side
So what have Team White been up to in their holding camp in Newcastle Upon Tyne? The International Netball Federation have organised a whole host of workshops to support the development of the world class umpires in netball. Three Netball Superleague umpires join this group for the build up, namely: Gary Burgess, Ian Fuller and Tracy Smith, and Bill Alexander from England is a supporting umpire mentor for the conference. Sessions at this camp have included: sleep patterns, coping with pressure, nutritional awareness, performance analysis, eye tracking and debates around the contact versus contest debate. This is the first camp of its kind before a major competition and all umpires will be raring to go after this experience.
Australia have mixed up their holding camp experiences in Manchester with some light training off-court, a trip to Manchester United, a social with the Aussie Commonwealth Games swimmers and on Saturday they made an appearance on court against an NSL Thunder select group of athletes. In what was a very close encounter, the Aussies came out on top with a narrow margin 58-52 after the lead changed hands several times through the period a of play. It still seems unclear who Lisa Alexander's first choice shooting line up is with Caitlin Thwaites and Natalie Medhurst entering the game at GS and GA in the second half to replace Caitlin Bassett and Tegan Caldwell. The Aussie bench will also contain Marg Caldow the legendary Australian shooter and previous England Coach. All will be revealed as the games begin but there is a slight redness in the sky and a belief that this is England's time to rise above the diamonds.
It was Bath time for New Zealand as the Silver Ferns went into camp in the south west. The Ferns played a warm up match against England A but behind closed doors and little is known about combinations other than the influential pairings of Catherine Latu and Maria Tutaia along with Katrina Grant and Casey Kopua in defence. Liana Leota enters into the squad after recently giving birth and playing a select number of quarters in the final stages of the ANZ. There is a sense that this squad have their eyes firmly on gold and will take no other coloured medal. After tasting the delights of Bath and dinner at Jamie Oliver's there is a strong sense of antipodean influence in the air moving on to Glasgow.
It is great to hear of all the ANZ signings recently with the England athletes once again proving to be key in the make-up of the 2015 squads. Eboni Beckford-Chambers makes a move from West Coast Fever to join the pink ladies of Adelaide Thunderbirds, Jade Clarke moves across the water from NZ to join New South Wales Swifts in Sydney, and it will be Serena Guthrie who makes her rookie appearance for Northern Mystics in NZ. It goes without saying the forces of Geva Mentor and Jo Harten will remain at their current location for the following season; Harten enhancing the Magic and Mentor proving the strong back liner for the Melbourne Vixens.
First matches as follows at CWG 2014 Netball:
Thursday July 24th Malawi versus Northern Ireland & Australia versus Wales
Friday July 25th England versus Wales & Scotland versus Saint Lucia
Best wishes to all of our home nations and officials in Glasgow. The netball family look forward to some great games in one of the most exciting decades of netball! Stay in touch with your thoughts and evaluations on the matches @netballpundit @SkyNetball