So far, so good as Eng­land show to­tal be­lief in gold stan­dard

Com­mon­wealth vic­tory has taken pres­sure off the play­ers for their World Cup challenge

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Netball World Cup - TAM­SIN GREEN­WAY

We are half­way through the World Cup now and, from an Eng­land per­spec­tive, it has been pretty much per­fect. They are per­form­ing on the court and us­ing the crowd as a tool to push them on with no fear. So far, so good.

Even though the games in the first group stage are pretty straight­for­ward, they al­ways pro­vide a sense of how a team are go­ing to per­form, and Eng­land were one of the two top sides to re­ally im­press me – the other be­ing New Zealand.

Eng­land’s whole squad of 12 – be­fore Layla Gus­coth’s in­jury –

look re­ally strong and they also ap­pear to be happy, which is al­ways a good sign.

They seem to be in a dif­fer­ent frame of mind now they are Com­mon­wealth cham­pi­ons. I know from a do­mes­tic level that the first time I won the Su­per­league as a coach it took so much pres­sure off the fol­low­ing year. It is not that you want to win the next com­pe­ti­tion any less, but you have al­ready got a medal in the bag, so you know what it takes and it does not feel as des­per­ate in those big mo­ments. You can see that in how Eng­land play now with to­tal be­lief.

The rea­son they and New Zealand have stuck out is how they have adapted in dif­fer­ent games, used their squad and been clin­i­cal. Even though Aus­tralia are un­beaten and have scored plenty of goals against weak op­po­si­tion, the one game that stuck out was their vic­tory over Zim­babwe, when they clearly be­came frus­trated.

I have seen Eng­land do that in the past against a side play­ing with ag­gres­sion and power, but they kept to their plan to beat Uganda, and New Zealand did the same

Eng­land were one of the two top sides to re­ally im­press me – the other be­ing New Zealand

when they played Zim­babwe. It is only Aus­tralia who have been af­fected. That is only a lit­tle thing, but in goal-for-goal games at the end of the tour­na­ment those small el­e­ments are height­ened and could be crucial.

Be­fore the com­pe­ti­tion, I had tipped Ja­maica to be in with a big chance of reach­ing the fi­nal, but they have been dis­ap­point­ing and will not be in the knock­out stage. They seem un­der­pre­pared, but Eng­land still had to put in a de­cent per­for­mance to beat them be­cause a Ja­maica team fight­ing for sur­vival will al­ways be hard, whether they are play­ing well or not.

Tracey Neville did not have to make a sin­gle sub­sti­tu­tion in that game, be­cause Ja­maica changed

first and she was able to per­sist with her start­ing seven. It was a crunch game and she wouldn’t have been think­ing about getting her play­ers rest. Now they have won it and all but se­cured their semi-fi­nal spot, rest and ro­ta­tion are things they can look at when they face Trinidad & Tobago to­day.

I do not think fresh­ness will be an is­sue for Eng­land at any point, even with the loss of Layla. I know it is un­usual com­pared to other sports that we play back-to-back each day and can­not re­place an in­jured player, but net­ballers pre­pare for this.

The main im­pact is that Layla would have been a start­ing player and her pres­ence would have al­lowed Tracey to ro­tate the likes of Eboni Usoro-brown and Jade Clarke against the big­ger teams. Now you have lost an im­pact change and Layla’s ab­sence has cre­ated a tac­ti­cal is­sue by lim­it­ing Eng­land’s op­tions.

Away from Eng­land, the main story in Liver­pool has been the emer­gence of Zim­babwe. Four years ago it was Malawi who cap­tured our hearts and Zim­babwe

We now have five teams with re­al­is­tic am­bi­tions to make a fi­nal, which is more than ever be­fore

have done it here. They have been in­cred­i­ble on court, where they have some re­ally good play­ers, and their fans have been amaz­ing in cheer­ing ev­ery ball for 60 min­utes when they play. They took it to the Aussies and they are fear­less.

They have shown the talent is there lower down and we have to en­sure we help these teams de­velop so the sport grows. We now have five teams with re­al­is­tic am­bi­tions to make a fi­nal, which is more than ever be­fore, but the re­al­ity is there is a huge gap be­tween them and the next group.

Ev­ery­one in net­ball needs to make sure that as the top teams be­come more pro­fes­sional we don’t leave the other na­tions fur­ther be­hind.

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