INF World Ranking - 1
Nickname - Australian Diamonds
Capital city - Canberra
Population - 24M
Best Commonwealth Games Finish - GOLD (1998, 2002, 2014)
The reigning gold medalists Australia, head into a home Commonwealth Games for the first time since 2006. During those Games in Melbourne, the Diamonds had to settle for a silver medal as rivals New Zealand took the gold in the final. Twelve years on and the opportunity to win a Commonwealth gold medal on home soil presents itself again.
Australia are the most successful nation when it comes to netball at the Commonwealth Games. Out of the five Commonwealth Games netball has featured in, the Diamonds have won gold three times. The first came in the inaugural netball tournament at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur 1998. Four years later the Diamonds tasted gold again when the Games came to Manchester. The Aussies would have to wait twelve years for their next gold medal, which came in the last Commonwealth Games, four years ago in Glasgow.
Australia are currently unbeaten in 2018 having won the Quad Series back in January. In that competition they defeated three of the top four sides in the world in England, New Zealand and South Africa. Their title clenching victory against the Silver Ferns was their largest victory against them since 2012.
Coach Lisa Alexander stated that selecting the squad was ‘enormously difficult’.
The side will be captained by Caitlin Bassett with Gabi Simpson as the vice captain. The squad consists of five former Commonwealth Games gold medalists who were victorious in Glasgow 2014. They are; Caitlin Bassett, Laura Geitz, Kim Ravaillion, Madi Robinson and Caitlin Thwaites.
Laura Geitz returns to the Diamonds squad for the first time since 2015 after a two year hiatus at international level following the birth of her first child.
Susan Pettitt has also been named in the squad after missing out four years ago in Glasgow. This will be Pettitt’s third Games following a silver medal in both Melbourne 2006 and Delhi 2010.
Six players will make their first ever appearance at a Commonwealth Games. They are; April Brandley, Courtney Bruce, Jo Weston, Gabi Simpson, Liz Watson and Stephanie Wood.
The squad have a combined total of 431 caps, with captain Caitlin Bassett being the highest capped with 74 and Stephanie Wood being the lowest capped with 8.
Match Schedule – Preliminary Round
The Diamonds get their campaign underway against Northern Ireland who have been rising up the INF World Rankings table as of late. They currently sit at number 8 and will be competing in only their second Commonwealth Games.
Next up will be a match against Barbados who they played at the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. That day the Diamonds won by fifty goals (77-27).
South Africa will be the next opponents for the Diamonds, a fixture they know well as of late. The Proteas have been tricky opposition for Australia in the last couple of Quad Series matches, with the Diamonds winning only by slender margins. Former Diamonds coach, Norma Plummer, is also the coach of South Africa.
Fiji will be Australia’s fourth opponents during the prelims. You have to go back to Manchester 2002 for the last time these both played against each other in the Commonwealth Games. On that day the diamonds won comfortably 83-32.
The final match of the Preliminary Round for the hosts will be against the second highest ranked team in the pool, Jamaica. This game has taken place at every Commonwealth Games to date. Glasgow 2014 is the first time these sides didn’t play each other in the prelims, however, they met in the semi finals in which the Diamonds won 57-42. This is likely to be a crucial game with both sides looking to ensure that all important semi final placed finish.
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