Australia and New Zealand will feature in a trans-Tasman Netball World Cup final after knocking out South Africa and England, respectively, in two thrilling semi-finals in Liverpool on Saturday.
Lying in bed at 3.30am wide awake, blood still pulsating through my body, legs jerking and hands shaking feverishly post the netball World Cup Grand Final match. You can only imagine how the players and coaching teams from both sides felt post match after a thrilling Netball World Cup final.
So at that odd hour of the morning, where any form of sleep was extremely far from reality, I had some deep thoughts regarding the grand final match and the whole World Cup. Of course looking through an Australian lense.
Last night’s defeat was a shocking and devastating loss to Australia. Going into the entire competition as favourites, the Diamonds have every reason to feel deflated, drained and shocked.
And even more so, a one-goal lose amplifies those feelings of defeat and regret. You could look at a plethora of errors made, battling in your mind over the simple changes which could have been the difference to that one goal loss.
The footwork call, the ball thrown directly out of court, the passes thrown directly into NZ hands. Errors were made by both sides throughout the game, as well as some incredible passages of play. However, at the end of the day, New Zealand read the play better.
They made it appear that goalers were available for a pass back, but a New Zealander was into that space immediately to turn the ball over. Australia did extend their lead at a point in the match, highlighting the tremendous work of players to grind up and down the court.
To counteract this, New Zealand came back just as strong, with great control and strength. I personally loved the tough battle, just as I loved the tough battle in the two games leading up to the grand final against New Zealand and South Africa.
In a post-game interview immediately after the match, Coach Lisa Alexander spoke about knee-jerk reactions which she would not be alluding to.
How can anyone look at their own coaching future and contract minutes after a world cup loss? How can anyone look at the restructuring of the team?
Every element of the lead-up and the final game will be reviewed, scrutinized and knit picked. The Wing Defender position will clearly be the position of major review, as well as the starting seven, position changes or lack thereof.
Questions are always going to be asked, but I pose this question; Is the state of netball around the world improving out of sight, making for Australia to seriously review their game style and team, not assuming the game of other national teams?
Contained, Alexander highlighted the game was only lost by a goal. No knee jerk reaction would be made, nor would it be likely to change the score. A one-goal loss is hard to live through, however, it really is not all that bad.
It isn’t the end of the world, should not be the cause for hate against specific players or the coach. Somebody had to lose, and this was Australia’s turn.
The grand final did make for an exciting game for spectators, especially those who got up in the early hours of a Monday morning.
Sure, when it’s compounded with a loss at the Commonwealth games last year it seems Australia is not the team it was. But, that is sport.
A defeat to England at the Commonwealth Games, and now a defeat to New Zealand at the World Cup. The common factor; Australia, showing up to both grand final matches. It highlights the level that netball is at around the world. Simply world-class.
It’s fantastic that the national teams around the world are developing so well. It’s no longer one team out front, or a constant battle between trans-Tasman rivals Australia and New Zealand.
South Africa, England and Jamaica could all have well played in that grand final match, and brought their A-game.
I am no sports scientist, however, I do ponder if the structure of the world cup is conducive to delivering world-class games. I understand that each team is in the exact same boat.
However for Australia who brought their A-game to every single game, playing four consistent, solid quarters, from their pool matches to the grand final. How can a players body be in their prime for a grand final? How can a Lizzy Watson back up each game again running centre for four quarters?
I understand the Diamonds have an incredible team of physios, expert coaches and dietitians, but I don’t believe that is good for an athletes body to play elite sport in this particular format. Nor do I believe it worked for Australia.
As Lisa Alexander said, the Diamonds will obviously go and review the game. And each individual will lose sleep of the errors they made. As past Diamonds players who lost at the 2003 World Cup will reveal, it never really leaves you. However, I will finish with words from Kelsey Browne regarding coach Lisa Alexander who she said “to have drawn inspiration from her strength.”
“She came over and said how proud she was and how brave we were out there. We weren’t going out to defend a title, we were going out to win it and we knew that we had to do that. So for her to say what she said meant a lot.”