It’s been 21 months since Erin Bell and Paige Hadley last stepped out for Australia, but the pair made a triumphant return to the international stage in the Diamonds opening match of the Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015.
Bell and Hadley’s last appearance in the green and gold was against Malawi on the Gold Coast in October 2013.
Both are back in the Diamonds line-up and were key contributors to Australia’s opening night win over Trinidad & Tobago at Sydney’s Allphones Arena.
Bell helped set up the win with an impressive first-half shooting performance while Hadley came on for her World Cup debut in the second half and was creative through the midcourt.
Bell also demonstrated the versatility that coach Lisa Alexander said factored into team selection, spending the last quarter at wing attack, feeding plenty of balls into Caitlin Thwaites and Natalie Medhurst.
“It felt really good to get back out there on court in the green and gold and to start as well was quite exciting,” Bell said.
“There had been a lot of hype about that particular position (goal attack) in the lead up but I just wanted to go out there and not put too much pressure on myself and do my role for the team.”
“It was great to come in the second half and the crowd was amazing,” Hadley said.
“So special to be back out there and it honestly felt like I hadn’t missed a beat. Obviously there were nerves (pre-game) but I could sit there for first half and soak in all the atmosphere and what was going on, so that was better for me.”
Australia is back on court at Allphones Arena this afternoon against Barbados, who was defeated convincingly by New Zealand in their opening match, at 3.20pm (AEST).
This will be the fourth meeting at a Netball World Cup between Australia and Barbados, and 11th overall. The Diamonds have won the previous 10, including a 50-goal victory at last year’s Commonwealth Games.
While it’s a short turnaround from the previous night’s game, Bell said recovery had been a major focus of the team.
“We’re not used to that in the ANZ Championship where we play one game a week,” Bell said. “So it’s all about our recovery and sleep and making sure we’re prepared.
“We knew coming into this tournament it was going to be like that so we’re trying to make our game day routine as normal as possible and be physically and mentally prepared to go.
“(Barbados) are going to be quite similar to Trinidad & Tobago. They might not be as aerial but they are very solid players.
“So it’s going to be the same type of game plan, not try to out run them but try and use our skill, being able to dodge and get around them that way.”
Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015 will be broadcast in Australia on FOX SPORTS, Network TEN and via the Netball Live app, available to download from the App Store and Google Play. Check your local guides for match details.