Commonwealth Games: Jamaica’s rise, England’s path forward and a look ahead to 2023 Netball World Cup | Netball News

England will now watch the Netball World Cup in South Africa in July next year

England will now watch the Netball World Cup in South Africa in July next year

After an exciting Commonwealth Games korfball tournament, we look at what comes next for the best korfball nations with a World Netball Championship in South Africa, less than a year away.

The fact that a World Cup takes place so soon after the Commonwealth Games is always a fascinating feature of the netball calendar.

Next year’s competition kicks off on July 28, and while 11 months may seem like a long time in terms of individual training hours, if you take a closer look there might be room for two, or at a nudge three, just Test series.

In Birmingham, the top four nations – Australia, New Zealand, England and Jamaica – competed for the medal matches and are expected to do so again in South Africa, but the question is in which direction will the positions fall?

Is it Jamaica’s time now? Will England hurt and deliver their Commonwealth? Can Australia avenge their World Cup final from four years ago or will Dame Noeline Taurua make New Zealand the mastermind behind the world titles?

The Commonwealth Games have certainly given us plenty to think about when it comes to answering some of those questions and let’s start by focusing on the Sunshine Girls.

For years, Jamaica has been a country seen as a ‘real threat’ at the time, but has not always been able to string together entire leagues and tournaments.

In Birmingham they delivered their own dynamic and passionate brand of netball, but they did it in a grown-up way for 10 days.

The Sunshine Girls have made new netball history at the Commonwealth Games

The Sunshine Girls have made new netball history at the Commonwealth Games

The Sunshine Girls loved every minute of the English crowd hugging them and were greatly boosted by Rob Wright’s knowledge and presence alongside head coach Connie Francis.

Wright, who is unpaid, put pen to paper in January with the Sunshine Girls as their technical defense coach and in Birmingham his influence was evident.

Jamaica’s stunning defenders – Shamera Sterling, Latanya Wilson, Kadie-Ann Dehaney and Jodi-Ann Ward – were among the least penalized defenders during the tournament. That wasn’t always the case and it allowed them to hold that much turnover ball.

The Shamera Sterling and Jamaica defenders were incredible under the extra guidance of Rob Wright

The Shamera Sterling and Jamaica defenders were incredible under the extra guidance of Rob Wright

Jamaica played with patience through the court, Jhaniele Fowler did a great job in the circle and goal strike Shanice Beckford made sure she couldn’t be forgotten.

In the gold medal match, it took them minutes after halftime, but the Sunshine Girls’ tournament as a whole showed what they can do and what they have done with limited resources.

Reports after the Games revealed that Wright is a ‘volunteer’ and has taken time off from his job to be in Birmingham. Also that the team arrived without a video analyst, S&C coach and only one massage therapist for their entire team.

If Jamaica gets the chance with further financial and structural support, just think how good they could be? And support has begun to come with the announcement of a three-year sponsorship deal at home.

The Sunshine Girls made history in Birmingham by beating the Diamonds at a Commonwealth Games for the first time and reaching the final for the first time, but with the right build and support they could do so much more in South Africa.

The Diamonds remained calm in the final and avenge their defeat in the group stage at the hands of Jamaica

The Diamonds remained calm in the final and avenge their defeat in the group stage at the hands of Jamaica

So, what about the Australian diamonds and their way forward? Well, the story about them changed significantly from their last group game to their semi-final win over England, didn’t it?

The Diamonds went from under pressure to beating England and then they delivered a guaranteed Grand Final performance, as Stacey Marinkovich made the early personnel changes and her players looked after her.

The depth of Australian netball means their line of talent will continue to perform in the lead up to the Netball World Cup.

In South Africa they will play in July next year with the same level of emotion they brought to the knockout matches in Birmingham as they have yet to settle a score.

New Zealand’s win over Liverpool at the 2019 Netball World Cup didn’t go down well with them and a scorned Diamonds side is a dangerous Diamonds side, just ask England.

Jess Thirlby and Vitality Roses of England have a bit to think about following their fourth place finish at a Commonwealth Games at home and the general level of that thinking will depend on players’ decisions about their future.

Eboni Usoro-Brown and Stacey Francis-Bayman have already announced their retirement from elite-level netball, meaning England’s defenses will have to be re-strengthened.

Layla Guscoth will lead the way for those entering the mix and the talent someone like Funmi Fadoju has is undeniable, but how quickly can she translate that to the international stage?

With respect, it’s a different ball game for the likes of Gretel Bueta and Grace Nweke than the challenges she’s faced before at the club level. That’s not to say Fadoju can’t do it, but rushing her and getting the transition wrong is something Thirlby wants to avoid at all costs.

Jade Clarke looks as sharp as ever, but will she make it to South Africa? And Geva Mentor too? Both players’ decisions will affect England’s plans and path.

Eleanor Cardwell had an exceptional tournament for England

Eleanor Cardwell had an exceptional tournament for England

In the wake of England’s fourth-place finish, emotions ran high and perhaps not enough was talked about the form they showed. The stoic defense all over the field had converted the ball and it had been converted by quick and clinical offense.

There was, of course, discussion about over-reliance on Nat Metcalf in a wing attack. And yes, in the coming months and Testing someone else should raise their hand to offer a specialist second option there.

Like Australia, England will arrive at the Netball World Cup with an emotional element to their motivation, hurt by the fact that back-to-back home games ended with no gold medals.

A bronze medal was secured in Liverpool but under a different head coach, so feelings from Birmingham will be fresher for this regime.

New Zealand will now aim to defend their Netball World Cup title in South Africa

New Zealand will now aim to defend their Netball World Cup title in South Africa

New Zealand’s The seven-goal win over England in the bronze medal match gave them something to work with over the next 12 months as they tried to defend their world title in South Africa.

They were a bit off balance in Birmingham, with no former captain Ameliaranne Ekenasio failing to meet their unwavering fitness standards, new mom Jane Watson and Karin Burger due to a broken foot.

An Ekenasio that meets Taurua’s fitness standards is world-class, Watson is in that category as well, and the work Burger does, especially when she’s in wing defense, is unrelenting.

In short, New Zealand has even more to go and has a structure of domestic netball, meaning Taurus will be heavily involved throughout the season. They also have a series of three tests against Jamaica in their calendar, which could be an inspired move.

The Sunshine Girls and New Zealand will play for the Taini Jamison Trophy in September, in addition to the Constellation Cup against Australia.

Tough matches, returning players, great competition for starting positions and Taurus’ excellent brain should ensure New Zealand arrive in South Africa in perfect shape to defend their world title.

For now, each team will need some time to process the results of the 10 days of action at the NEC Arena and get their bodies back to normal after such a grueling match schedule.

England return to a home court together in October for a series of three Tests against Uganda and given the packed stands in Birmingham, expect tickets to be snapped up in a flash as the Roses look ahead, learn from the Commonwealth Games and focus on the World Cup korfball 2023.

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