As if the Samsung Diamonds didn’t know that the rest of the netball world was breathing down their necks, the latest world netball rankings provide a salient reminder of the challenge that awaits them at the Quad Series and Constellation Cup later this year.
The rankings, released earlier this week, have the Diamonds still ranked as the number one netball nation, despite missing out on Commonwealth Games gold.
But it’s the action just below them that creates plenty of intrigue and ensures there’ll be more than just pride and silverware on the line when Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa face off in the International Test Series in September and October.
Commonwealth Games gold medallists England have usurped the New Zealand Silver Ferns in second position, marking the first time in history that a country other than Australia or New Zealand has sat inside the top two.
While next year’s World Cup is the ultimate goal in front of the Samsung Diamonds and coach Lisa Alexander, the desire to remain number one will be ever present for the Aussies, as well as a significant carrot for England, who now know that top spot is no longer just a pipe dream.
But Australia still holds a commanding lead in the rankings, with 212 points under the International Netball Federation’s weighted system, which puts greater importance on results from the last 12 months and a 50% scale on games from the previous two years.
Under the new rankings, England is on 174 points, just two points ahead of New Zealand, meaning one result in New Zealand’s favour could see them back in second place.
Meanwhile, South Africa is in fifth on 142 points, below Jamaica in fourth after missing the Commonwealth Games semi-finals, but will welcome back a number of key personnel who missed the Games through injury.
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