2015 Liz Ellis Diamond contenders – Shooters

This Saturday night will see one Australian Diamond add another crown to the Netball World Cup and Constellation Cup titles, as the winner of the Liz Ellis Diamond, the most prestigious individual honor in the sport.

In the build-up to the Australian Netball Awards, we’ll take a look at the major contenders in each third of the court, beginning with the shooters.

Last year Madi Robinson created history by becoming the first multiple winner of the Liz Ellis Diamond – will a shooter create history by winning the accolade for the first time in 2015?

CAITLIN BASSETT

No one has had a greater presence in the goal circle around the world this year than Bassett, who scored almost 1000 goals overall.

The 27-year-old spearheaded Australia’s campaign to defend its Netball World Cup crown in Sydney and finished her 2015 international season with 364 goals from 11 appearances at an average of 33.1 per match. In 2014 she averaged 32.6 goals a game.

She equaled her career-best haul of 49 goals – set in the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medal match – in the Diamonds’ semi-final win over Jamaica and then backed up with a 48-goal performance in the final.

A career-best season in the ANZ Championship was also the catalyst behind West Coast Fever qualifying for its first ever finals appearance.

The 193cm Bassett became the first Australian to score 600 goals in a season and only finished behind Jamaican duo Romelda Aiken and Jhaniele Fowler-Reid.

However, her performances saw Bassett preferred as goal shooter in the Foxtel All-Star Team – the first time a Fever player had earned that honor.

ERIN BELL

The smooth-moving Bell made the most of her recall to the Australian team for the Netball World Cup by helping the Diamonds get their campaign away to a strong start in their early pool matches.

Against South Africa Bell produced a career-best performance in a Diamonds dress by scoring 33 goals and she highlighted her versatility to the line-up by playing a couple of cameo roles at wing attack.

She saw limited court time in Australia’s Constellation Cup series win against New Zealand, but produced a strong final quarter performance playing at goal shooter in the third Test in Melbourne.

Her numbers for the Adelaide Thunderbirds in the ANZ Championship were slightly down on her career-best 2014 campaign, however Bell was again the second most prolific scorer from long-range behind Maria Tutaia, shooting 100 of her 233 goals from that area at 70 per cent accuracy.

NATALIE MEDHURST

The influence of the crafty goal attack goes far behind her shooting numbers.

While her long-range scoring ability continues to be a key weapon of her game, Medhurst’s speed around the goal circle and quick hands make her a tough opponent for any defender to handle.

The Medhurst-Bassett combination during the ANZ Championship season and then the triumphant Netball World Cup campaign kept defenders constantly on their toes and the pair have a wonderful understanding of each other’s games.

She was awarded two Player of the Match Awards for her performances at Christchurch and Auckland in Australia’s recent Constellation Cup series win over New Zealand.

At the age of 31, Medhurst still has plenty left to offer Australian netball for many years to come.

CAITLIN THWAITES

The last 12 months has arguably been the best of Thwaites’ career both in the green and gold and also in the ANZ Championship.

She finished with 128 goals from five appearances in Australia’s Netball World Cup campaign at 87 per cent accuracy.

That included a career-high 43 goals in three quarters against Wales in the Diamonds’ last classification match while she also made valuable contributions against Trinidad & Tobago and South Africa during the tournament to highlight the depth in the side’s shooting ranks.

Her 500 goals in the ANZ Championship was also a personal best, eclipsing her 2009 tally of 476 and was also a new season record for the NSW Swifts.