Netball World Cup Takes Centre Stage In Liverpool
July 12, 2019
Finally, the world cup takes centre stage in Liverpool, the next two weeks see the best teams in the world battle it out to take home gold and glory. After the Commonwealth games, the favourites to reach the final are Australia and England. But that doesn’t mean the other top nations will take that lying down, with the likes of New Zealand, South Africa, and Jamaica all pushing to cause an upset.
England captain, Serena Guthrie, has hit back amid claims from the Australian captain that the Roses will ‘crumble under the pressure of playing in front of a home crowd’. The mind games have started already with captain Bassett also adding the English side are ‘unprepared’. Guthrie has hit back saying that ‘We are not trying to shy away from the pressure at all. Every team in the top five is under pressure for different reasons and it is about who handles the pressure best.’
Australia is coming into the tournament having lost the Commonwealths on home soil last year. So, the pressure is on for them to bounce back from an almost shock and stunning defeat at the hands of the Roses. The Australian team knows it will be detrimental to their world ranking, pride and strength of team if they were to lose two major consecutive titles. The team is very much aware of what it takes to be a world championship side, as current holders they feel they have drawn a line after their defeat and are ready to prove to the world, once more, they are a force to be reckoned with.
England has their toughest group game to open their tournament this evening, having beaten the African side by just four goals when the sides met last November. The bottom line is England has to step up to the mark, push their worries aside and enjoy riding the wave of the home crowd. With the tournament played in front of a sell-out crowd, the Roses will not be short of support from the sidelines.
For one of the first times in recent years, the media, TV, and country care about the success of the England Netball team. Their success is paramount to how the nation will view netball in the coming years. With over 130,000 more women engaged in netball after their Commonwealth success, you can only imagine how the sport would change if they managed to make history and become World Champions on home soil.
But, the Australian side won’t make it easy for the Roses to complete their dream of having two world titles under the belt at the same time. With the Australian side having won 11 of the last 14 world cup titles, they find themselves in unfamiliar territory with the England team the new kids on the block trying to show off their dominance. The hunters become the hunted with all the top teams seeing Australia as a fully beatable side, they will have the confidence to cause an upset.
For the first time in recent years the final is not guaranteed to feature the Australian side, they have shown their weakness and the rest of the world are ready to pounce on that, with the likes of New Zealand, South Africa, Malawi, and Jamaica all pining to take some silverware home to their respective countries.
In the eyes of the netball world, England are expected to win, they know that, and Australia knows that too. Tracey Neville and the England side have been pushing to reach world dominance in perfect time for the 2019 World Cup, and it has been suspected they ‘accidentally’ peaked early and took gold in Melbourne, causing a massive shock along the way.
The Australian side has brought a relatively inexperienced squad to Liverpool with just 338 caps in total between them. Only three of their players have taken to the World Cup stage before, so it will be interesting to see how the side will cope under pressure of a big tournament. The Roses have a pretty unchanged side in comparison to the winning Commonwealth team, with a few injuries meaning a couple of star players have had to be left out of the squad.
You can keep up to date with all the World Cup matches on the BBC, online and TV. The first round of pool matches starts this afternoon, with the second round of ranked matches starting early next week.
The next two weeks will bring nerves, passion, and heart to Liverpool. Neville and her Roses will want to win the World title on home soil, proving to the rest of the world they are a solid and forceful side that deserve to be named best in the world. Only time will tell how the English side will fare when the pressure is on.
Author: Beth Gunter
Beth has a First Class Degree in Sports Journalism from the University of East London, and has done work experience for Leyton Orient Football Club, Dagenham and Redbridge and filmed for BT Sport. She currently volunteers with Volleyball England at major events and is based in Southampton.