The Australian Diamonds have named a 12-player team and two training partners for January’s three-Test tour of England with coach Lisa Alexander and national selectors, Anne Sargeant and Michelle Wilkins, continuing the team’s evolution.
Uncapped rising star Liz Watson has been selected in the team, which features six players from Australia’s Netball World Cup winning team, including Caitlin Bassett, Paige Hadley, Renae Ingles, Sharni Layton, Natalie Medhurst and Caitlin Thwaites.
Watson’s selection continues the Diamonds’ rejuvenation, which included the debuts of Gabi Simpson, Gretel Tippett, Ashleigh Brazill and Jo Weston during the recent Constellation Cup series, following key retirements of Julie Corletto, Kimberlee Green and Rebecca Bulley after the World Cup.
“The national selectors and I feel that it’s important to continue to create opportunities and elite international experience for all of our National Squad athletes in preparation for benchmark events such as the Commonwealth Games in 2018 at the Gold Coast,” Alexander said.
“January’s tour of England will provide all athletes with the chance to benchmark themselves against world number three ranked England and demonstrate their ability to thrive on the international netball stage.”
Diamonds captain Laura Geitz and Kim Ravaillion, who made her international debut on the 2013 tour to England, have been rested for the tour while Erin Bell and Ashleigh Brazill continue the rotations.
Just three players, Bassett, Ingles and April Letton, return to England following the Diamonds’ maiden series defeat to the Roses three years ago.
“The series three years ago provided our Diamonds program with the wake-up call it needed to regain the world number one ranking,” Alexander said of the 3-0 series loss.
“Lessons were learnt and we won’t be making the same mistakes again so we’ve selected our team in November to ensure we give our athletes the best physical and mental preparation for what’s expected to be a hard fought series.”
Shooter Stephanie Wood, who has been elevated to the Diamonds squad, and defender Kristiana Manu’a have been named as touring training partners following performances at Netball Australia’s Centre of Excellence.
An acting-captain for the three-Test series against England Roses will be named ahead of the team’s departure in January.
Australian Diamonds team for 2016 England Tour
NAME (state of origin/ANZ Championship team)
Caitlin Bassett (WA/West Coast Fever)
Paige Hadley (NSW/NSW Swifts)
Renae Ingles (nee Hallinan) (VIC/Adelaide Thunderbirds)
Sharni Layton (VIC/NSW Swifts)
April Letton (NSW/West Coast Fever)
Clare McMeniman (QLD/Queensland Firebirds)
Natalie Medhurst (SA/West Coast Fever)
Gabi Simpson (NSW/Queensland Firebirds)
Caitlin Thwaites (VIC/NSW Swifts)
Gretel Tippett (QLD/Queensland Firebirds)
Liz Watson (VIC/Melbourne Vixens)
Jo Weston (VIC/Melbourne Vixens)
Kristiana Manu’a (NSW/Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic)*
Stephanie Wood (QLD/NSW Swifts)*
2016 Tour of England Fixture
Test 1 – England Roses v Australian Diamonds
Wednesday 20 January 2016
Echo Arena, Liverpool
Test 2 – England Roses v Australian Diamonds
Friday 22 January 2016
Copper Box Arena, London
Test 3 – England Roses v Australian Diamonds
Sunday 24 January 2016
Copper Box Arena, London