VETERAN AND DEBUTANT NAMED IN DIAMONDS TEAM

Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander has named separate teams for the upcoming Constellation Cup series against the New Zealand Silver Ferns and two-Test series against Malawi starting next month.

Diamonds

National selectors have included Demelza McCloud for the first time since 2005, alongside the uncapped Paige Hadley in the 12-player team to take on Malawi.

McCloud, who was elevated from training partner to squad member during the selection camp, retired from netball in 2010, then made a brief appearance with the Melbourne Vixens as an injury replacement player, before returning full time to the ANZ Championship with the Southern Steel in 2011.

Shooters Caitlin Thwaites and Natalie Medhurst, midcourter Kim Green and defenders Laura Geitz and Bianca Chatfield all returned to the Diamonds team after missing January’s Tour of England.

Defender Sharni Layton also returns to the national team for the first time since 2011 after injury prevented the defender from international duties last year.

“We’ve identified this team with one eye on next year’s Commonwealth Games, we want to give our athletes the opportunity to gel as a unit on and off the court,” Alexander said.

“The two series against New Zealand and Malawi have provided us with an opportunity to work with a high quality group of athletes in excellent form in preparation for next year.”

The Diamonds head into the 2013 internationals minus 252 Tests of experience following the retirement of captain Natalie Von Bertouch (69) after the ANZ Championship Grand Final, withdrawal of veteran Catherine Cox (108) this week and Mo’onia Gerrard’s (68) switch to Rugby 7s.

The Australians will be without a player who’s recorded 50 or more Test appearances with Green and Chatfield the most experienced campaigners, the pair sitting one Test shy of the half-century milestone.

“There’s no denying that we’ve lost a great deal of experience for this year’s Test series but those experienced athletes have played a significant role in helping to prepare this next group of athletes for the previous couple of years,” Alexander said.

Kim Ravaillion has retained her spot in the Diamonds following her international debut against England earlier this year and will be replaced by NSW Swifts rising star Paige Hadley while McCloud will replace Chatfield for the Malawi series.

The Diamonds will return to camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra in a fortnight to continue preparations for Australia’s last international hit out ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

A new Australian captain will be announced in due course.

The 2013 Constellation Cup between the Australian Diamonds and New Zealand Silver Ferns kicks off on September 15 in Invercargill.

Australian Diamonds team for New Zealand series:
(ANZ Championship team/state of origin)

Caitlin BASSETT (West Coast Fever/WA)
Erin BELL (Adelaide Thunderbirds/NSW)
Madison BROWNE (Melbourne Vixens/VIC)
Rebecca BULLEY (Adelaide Thunderbirds/VIC)
Bianca CHATFIELD (Melbourne Vixens/VIC)
Laura GEITZ (Queensland Firebirds/QLD)
Kim GREEN (NSW Swifts/ NSW)
Renae HALLINAN (Adelaide Thunderbirds/VIC)
Sharni LAYTON (Adelaide Thunderbirds/VIC)
Natalie MEDHURST (Queensland Firebirds/SA)
Kim RAVAILLION (Queensland Firebirds/NSW)
Caitlin THWAITES (Central Pulse/VIC)

Australian Diamonds team for Malawi series:
(ANZ Championship team/state of origin)

Caitlin BASSETT (West Coast Fever/WA)
Erin BELL (Adelaide Thunderbirds/NSW)
Madison BROWNE (Melbourne Vixens/VIC)
Rebecca BULLEY (Adelaide Thunderbirds/VIC)
Laura GEITZ (Queensland Firebirds/QLD)
Kim GREEN (NSW Swifts/ NSW)
Paige HADLEY (NSW Swifts/NSW)
Renae HALLINAN (Adelaide Thunderbirds/VIC)
Demelza McCLOUD (Queensland Firebirds/VIC)
Sharni LAYTON (Adelaide Thunderbirds/VIC)
Natalie MEDHURST (Queensland Firebirds/SA)
Caitlin THWAITES (Central Pulse/VIC)