England has made a statement ahead of October’s Quad-Series in Australia and New Zealand with a comprehensive three Test international clean sweep of Barbados during a mid-season break in the UK Superleague.
While much of the focus is on the ANZ Championship, the international series on the other side of the world gave netball fans a look at what our competitors are up to ahead of the Quad-Series featuring Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa.
With many of the England netball stars, including Geva Mentor (Vixens), Sonia Mkoloma (Swifts), Eboni Beckford-Chambers (Fever), Jade Clarke (Mystics), Stacey Francis (Tactix) and Jo Harten (Tactix), competing in the ANZ Championship, England took the opportunity to blood new players.
In England’s 72-41 victory over Barbados in the opening Test at LG Arena in Birmingham, Laura Malcolm and Kerry Almond recorded their first Test caps in impressive international debuts.
Malcolm’s athletic efforts at wing defence, which included some flair and intercepts, didn’t go unnoticed in a Player of the Match performance.
While the 31-goal scoreline may appear comprehensive on paper, England coach Anna Mayes believes there’s still plenty of room for improvement with basic errors overshadowing an otherwise pleasing victory.
“For me it was disappointing because it was the same mistakes and basic errors that crept in; I’m getting a little tired of saying that,” Mayes told Netball England after the first game.
“Success for me isn’t just based on the scoreboard, I’m really keen to look at the processes and the consistency of sticking to the task, that’s where we’ll be going back to the drawing board.”
England’s Pamela Cookey said her team needed to improve on the basics after the first Test.
“We definitely want to see the basics done better because when we come up against the other teams such as Australia, New Zealand and Jamaica, if we aren’t getting those things right then we’re not going to be winning,” Cookey said.
The series wasn’t without a scare for England as a gritty Barbados struck back and nearly pulled off what would have been a huge international upset in the second Test, going down by five goals, 53-48 in Bath.
Barbados, ranked ninth in the world, took an early lead from the first centre pass before England found their way back into the game and took a narrow advantage into the first break. Despite falling behind, Barbados fought hard to be within four goals in the shadows of full time however the final whistle ended any chance of a comeback.
England regained the form that saw them progress through to the 2011 World Netball Championship semi-finals and nearly upset the Diamonds in last year’s third Test of the Holden Netball Test Netball with a comprehensive victory in the third Test.
The hosts bounced back in Surrey to win 73-23 to complete the whitewash with a strong defensive effort.
Despite the second Test, the result will give England an injection of confidence ahead of their next outing in October in the Quad-Series which kicks off in Adelaide on 14 October before moving to Newcastle on 17 October and Sydney on 21 October.
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