Netball Expert & Columnist
England's Roses have chances to shine on tour to South Africa
Watch all three of England's Tests live on Sky Sports on November 29, 30 and December 1
Last Updated: 07/11/19 3:25pm
Following the announcement of England's 14-player squad for their Test series in South Africa, Tamsin Greenway shares her thoughts on every area of the court and highlights players with big opportunities in front of them.
Largely this is a totally new team because even from the four players that were at the World Cup, there's only one or two real starters in there.
Of course, we were all expecting that with Serena Guthrie, Jo Harten and Geva Mentor all deciding to take a bit of time out. Now, it's interesting to take a look at the new and returning faces...
England 14-player squad for South Africa Series
|George Fisher||Natalie Panagarry|
|Eleanor Cardwell||Stacey Francis|
|Kadeen Corbin||Kate Shimmin|
|Sophie Drakeford-Lewis||Fran Williams|
|Natalie Haythornthwaite||Razia Quashie|
|Jade Clarke||Gabriella Marshall|
|Laura Malcolm||Summer Artman|
The Defensive End
First, let's just talk about Stacey Francis. It's great to see her put herself up for selection for this Test series.
I think that the connection between her and Jess Thirlby was probably key in her decision and it's a great steal for England as well because she's been performing overseas, so a lot of people questioned why she hasn't done it in the last few years. We will all be eager to see where she is at and how she plays in the team.
As a whole, it's interesting looking at the defensive end selected.
I think that Stacey is going to have to cover at GK, because although GD is her first choice, it is for Kate Shimmin and Fran Williams too. So, I reckon that we're going to see Stacey drop back unless of course they just let Raz Quashie play out most of the series?
Stacey Francis is a real hunting player so it will be interesting to see the court-time she gets but I think that kind of buzz and experience not only for the team but also the fan-base is really important.
Tamsin Greenway discussing the experienced defender
The Shooting Circle
In my view, there aren't any real surprises in this area of the squad.
I think that this is George Fisher's opportunity to shine and I really hope that England give her the chance to do just that.
Why? Well, the reality is that these youngsters will be starting for England at some point in the next four years, so to see her and Sophie Drakeford-Lewis get opportunities in South Africa will be the momentum and the growth the Roses need.
I say that because when you look across the squad, although you've got new faces in it, they've still gone for experience in terms of either age or players that have been around or in and out for a while.
Down the defensive end, you want to see Fran Williams partnered with Stacey Francis and you want to see Kate Shimmin partnered with Raz Quashie. You don't want these more seasoned players, that have just come back in getting all of the game time and not taking the chance to bring the youngsters through.
As for the shooters, it might be that you play Kadeen Corbin with George Fisher or Ellie Cardwell with Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, just to bolster some experience round them.
In all, the shooting end is going to be a make or break. There's no Jo Harten, Helen Housby or Rachel Dunn so it's a real opportunity for these players to step up and go, 'Look at me, I'm going to be the next shooter that takes us through this cycle.' Personally, I think that player is going to be George Fisher.
What you've got to remember is it's easier being a young defender coming through than it is being a young shooter. There's so much pressure on these shooters and it's no surprise that it perhaps takes shooters a longer time to make an impact every game or to become that starting player.
I think in picking the mid-court, England have made a real statement in saying: 'Ok we've got some young inexperience in both ends so we're going to strengthen around them'.
I think my only negative - I would have loved to have seen a Gabby Marshall in there fully, I know she's going out to South Africa as a training partner.
My reasoning is that, are those four mid-courters [Laura Malcolm, Natalie Panagarry, Natalie Haythornthwaite and Jade Clarke] going to take you through to the next Commonwealth Games and World Cup? I'd say the reality is that they're not.
Performance wise, there's no question that Laura Malcom and Natalie Panagarry will be the top mid-courters in that group at the moment, but it is perhaps for me a missed opportunity to put a youngster in that mid-court area to help her thrive.
I'm also looking at Natalie Haythornthwaite, in the same way as George Fisher, this is her chance to shine.
Chelsea Pitman isn't on the plane to South Africa, so this is Natalie's opportunity to lead, grab that bib, and play the way she ended the World Cup campaign. You'd expect Natalie to be out on court for most of the time.
Jade Clarke is just exceptional. She's England's most capped player and I'm really pleased that she's put her hand up and said, 'I'm going to carry on and see what happens'. It's important for this group.
Overall it's exciting times ahead for the England Roses, regardless of the squad South Africa put out there, you'd expect this group to go into this Test series to take the victory and to start the rebuild. I can't wait to watch.
Sky Sports is your home of netball and live action returns with this three-Test tour to South Africa. The first Test from the Velodrome in Cape Town will be shown on November 29 at 5pm.