Netball World Cup 2019: Expert's verdict on Group A
Watch every match of the Vitality Netball World Cup 2019 live on Sky Sports from July 12-21
Last Updated: 11/07/19 2:54pm
Australia, Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe battle it out for the three qualification places on offer in Group A - Dan Ryan gives us the lowdown.
The competition starts on Friday, July 12 and you can watch every match of the tournament live on Sky Sports.
This will be the 15th edition of netball's pinnacle tournament and it will be the third time England has played host after the inaugural competition in Eastbourne in 1963 and Birmingham in 1995.
In total 16 teams will contest for the ultimate prize so scroll down to find out a little more about each team in Group A.
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- Best World Cup finish: Winners '15, '11, '07, '99, '95, '91, '83, '79*, '75, '63 (*joint with New Zealand and Trinidad & Tobago)
- INF Ranking: No 1
- Coach: Lisa Alexander
- Nickname: Australian Diamonds
- Social Media: @AussieDiamonds
Australia won the first world tournament in Eastbourne and have been the most successful side in the competition's history by winning 11 of the 14 editions. The side have never finished lower than second.
In 2015 it was a Trans-Tasman final with the Australian Diamonds prevailing 58-55 over the Silver Ferns. Head coach Lisa Alexander took the reins of the national team back in 2011 and her vast experience will look to try and bring about a fourth successive title, this July.
Squad: Caitlin Bassett (Captain), April Brandley, Kelsey Browne, Courtney Bruce, Paige Hadley, Sarah Klau, Jamie-Lee Price, Caitlin Thwaites, Gretel Tippett, Liz Watson (Vice-captain), Jo Weston, Steph Wood.
Expert verdict: They're coming into this Championships, for want of a better phrase, as underdogs and that's wild to even say that! They've had a little bit of a tumultuous preparation leading into this in terms of their squad selection in there being a couple of outsiders being named in it in Paige Hadley and Jamie Lee-Price, and leaving out Gabi Simpson.
But the Australians are the consummate professionals, they are the current reigning World Cup holders from 2015 so they are definitely not to be written off at all and having said all of that, they have some phenomenal players in their line-up, some that are probably going to be the stand-outs in this tournament.
Make no qualms about it, the Diamonds are coming here with their mind set to get redemption on what the England Roses did to them in their backyard last year at the Commonwealth Games. Second to that, it is almost bred in these Australian netballers that they win, they are winners, they go for major championships and they are No 1 in the world and if you want to wear the green and gold you understand that expectation to go alongside - Mikki Austin
- Best World Cup finish: 7th
- INF Ranking: No 8
- Coach: Dan Ryan
- Social Media: @NetballNI
Northern Ireland's line-up may well feature many familiar faces from the Vitality Netball Superleague with the likes of London Pulse's Fionnuala Toner, Saracens Mavericks' Michelle Drayne and Manchester Thunder's Caroline O'Hanlon.
The team's head coach, Dan Ryan, is another very recognisable individual in the world of netball and his expertise should have paid dividends during the build-up for this competition. The fact their first match of the tournament is against Ryan's native Australia, adds a touch of extra spice too!
Squad: Lisa Bowman, Niamh Cooper, Shaunagh Craig, Ciara Crosbie, Michelle Drayne, Gemma Lawlor, Emma Magee, Michlle Magee, Lisa McCaffrey, Caroline O'Hanlon (Captain), Fionnuala Toner (Vice-captain), Neamh Woods.
Expert verdict: I think Northern Ireland, although they've got the Aussies in their very first game, I think they'll be really happy with the group they're in. The likelihood is they'll finish second in the group and qualify for the next stage so that's an amazing positive for them, they've obviously had a brilliant asset in their coaching staff with Dan Ryan and I'm sure he's been doing wonders for them. Not just on court but their mentality off the court as well.
They've got a couple of really key players in their line-up in Fionnula Toner and Michelle Drayne, who has come off the back of an outstanding Superleague season this year and we see Shauna Craig back in their shooting end who has been playing Superleague netball over the past few years and Noeline as well just came back in preparation for this to get her 100th cap. So they've got some vast experience across their line-up - Mikki Austin
- Best World Cup finish: N/A
- INF Ranking: No 13
- Coach: Lloyd Makunde
- Nickname: The Gems
Zimbabwe's appearance in Liverpool marks a seminal moment for the outfit as it will be their first time on the Netball World Cup stage.
In the African Regional Qualifier their 58-42 victory over Kenya ultimately secured them the second qualifying spot behind Uganda. A series of friendly matches against the She Cranes will have been an integral part of their build-up as they look to make the step up before facing more of the best in the world in July.
Squad: Adz Muskwe, Asepliff Kwaramba, Jamaica Mauladi, Marcopolo Takaidza, Ndai Madzikangava, Ngwane Ndlovu, Pepe Siyachitema, Peters Jani, Sharleen Makusha, Team Karume, Wakanda Bwanali, Felisitus Kwangwa
Expert verdict: They are the only team in the tournament to be making their debut World Cup appearance so a lot of what is going to happen, of what they're going to see, experience and feel in terms of the venue size, the crowd, the noise and the expectation is going to be a bit of an unknown to them. But with that comes no pressure so they could be a real bogey team for a couple of nations. When you're just turning up, playing and you've got nothing to lose that makes you pretty dangerous.
They've had a really good preparation coming into this. They qualified in style, they won all of their matches in their regional qualifiers apart from against Uganda who they missed because they're not in their group so they'll probably be feeling pretty grateful for that.
I think they'll be coming into this excited for the experience and wanting to put Zimbabwe as a nation, in netball terms, up there in the forefront of the conversation and they'll be targeting games like Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland to be able to, on a world stage, show what they can do - Mikki Austin
- Best World Cup finish: 9th
- INF Ranking: No 18
- Coach: Thilaka Jinadasa
You have to go back to 1963 for Sri Lanka's best tournament finish - ninth in the world's first Netball World Cup. Now, 56 years on, their work is masterminded by coach Jinadasa. On court, circle-defender Chathurangi Jayasooriya is one of their most experienced members and keen to drive their charge. Jayasooriya combines her sport with a career as a a Commissioned Officer in the Air Force.
Squad: Darshika Abeywickram, Gayanjali Amarawansa, Deepika Darshani, Dulanga Dhananji, Gayani Dissanayake, Chathurangi Jayasooriya (Captain), Hasitha Mendis, Nauchalee Rajapakse, Elilenthini Sethukavalar, Tharjini Sivalingam, Dulangi Wannithilake, Thilini Waththegedara
Expert verdict: They've been there, they've done it before this isn't their first time in terms of World Cup competition. They also emerged undefeated in their regional qualifier in Asia last year so they've become accustomed to coming up against teams and winning. I think it will be a little bit of a different mind-set when they get to this World Cup stage because they're going to face opposition that are incredibly strong and are really going to test them and it's just about their mental capability when they're going goal-for-goal with teams.
They've got some experienced players in their line-up and they've got some absolute giants! Their shooter is 211cm tall and that will provide a challenge for a lot of teams. Certainly every team in their group, I'm sure Australia will probably find the fire power to be able to deal with it but for Northern Ireland and Zimbabwe she's going to be a real handful underneath that goal post for them - Mikki Austin
**All Rankings based on matches up to June, 30 2019**
Watch every match of the Vitality Netball World Cup 2019 live on Sky Sports. Coverage starts on Friday, July 12 plus keep up to date with all of the latest competition news, results and enjoy in-depth features at skysports.com/netball.