Alexander wants Diamonds to become world beaters

_MCA0423LiAustralian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander continues to set her players some lofty targets with her sights now set on becoming the world’s best sporting team at next year’s Netball World Cup in Sydney.

The Diamonds will head into 2015 on a 19-Test winning streak and Alexander said the current squad wants to leave their legacy on Australian netball by defending their world title at home.

The current winning streak is the fourth best in the 76-year history of Australian netball. The all-time best is 37 Tests, which was achieved between 1990 and 1994 and includes the 1991 world championship – the last time the event was played in Australia.

The Diamonds are one win off equaling the record of 20 Tests won between 2001-03 while between 1994 and 1997 Australia won 26 Tests in a row.

Having wrapped up their triumphant 2014 international campaign this week, the Diamonds have earned a well-deserved break for a few weeks until planning for 2015 gets underway.

Alexander said she’s proud of what the team has achieved over the past 12 months.“I’m also proud of our sport because it’s not just the work that’s done with this group, it’s all our athlete pathway work and providing fantastic athletes and a great domestic competition as well,” Alexander said.

“I get the honor and privilege of coaching the best and they are the best (netballers) in the world.

“(But) we’ve challenged ourselves not just to be just the best netball team but the best sporting team in the world and the girls are really grasping hold of that idea and really want to take it to its full extent.

“When you’re a coach and in charge of that sort of energy and intensity it’s wonderful and it’s been a pleasure to coach them – particularly this year.”

Diamonds goal shooter Caitlin Bassett said the team was proud to have accomplished the feat of going through 2014 unconquered in 13 Tests against seven countries.

_MCA9871Li“Really proud of the way we finished off and to know that we’ve gone through a year undefeated is a fantastic feeling,” Bassett said.

Coincidently, 13 players took to the court for Australia in its 13 Test victories this year. Madi Robinson and reigning Liz Ellis Diamond winner Renae Hallinan played in every match.

Having won the Commonwealth Games Gold Medal in Glasgow this year, Alexander and her team are now focused on defending their world title next year and emulating the feats of the ’91 team coached by Joyce Brown and captained by Michelle den Dekker.

“That’s the best thing about this team,” Bassett said. “We set our standards really high and we’re always pushing to be not perfect but as close to as we possibly can.

“It’s great to have these high targets and Lisa is really great at pushing us, but not making them unrealistic at the same time.”

The Diamonds squad will get together at a training camp in late November where Alexander will map out their plans for next year’s Netball World Cup.

“We’re very serious about doing well at our home World Cup next year,” Alexander declared.