THE 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England are just around the corner. To celebrate, we are previewing each of the competing netball nations and predicting how they might fare in the tournament.
Today it is host country and the reigning Commonwealth Games champions, England.
The English are under pressure unlike any of their fellow netballing nations at these Commonwealth Games. Not only are they the host country at these Games, but they are the reigning Commonwealth Games champions, having defeated the Aussie Diamonds by a single goal back in 2018.
So the question is, can they go back to back?
They have an experienced squad full of players who have been there and done that before. Their defensive end of Stacey Francis-Bayman, Geva Mentor and Eboni Usoro-Brown have all been around the system for a long time and know the ins and outs, and while Layla Guscoth made her Roses debut 10 years ago, this will actually be her first Games.
Natalie Metcalf and Eleanor Cardwell have just finished up a championship winning season with Manchester Thunder so they will be looking to continue their winning run into these Games, while Jo Harten and Helen Housby both had stellar Suncorp Super Netball seasons. Both also shot a high volume of Super Shots this season (with Housby shooting the most in the league and Harten the second most), so although Super Shots are not an option at the Commonwealth Games, this will still give them the confidence to be able to shoot from anywhere in the ring.
The Roses will be hoping it is a particularly golden swan song for Francis-Bayman, with the stalwart retiring at the end of the Games.
In the group stage, realistically the only ones that should give the Roses a run for their money is New Zealand. Malawi will put up a fight, but realistically they should not have any trouble making the knockout stage. The question will be how much further they are able to go. They finished fourth at the last World Cup, so they will certainly be hoping this tournament goes more like the 2018 games did then the 2019 World Cup did.
Stacey Francis-Bayman, Layla Guscoth, Geva Mentor, Eboni Usoro-Brown, Jade Clarke, Imogen Allison, Laura Malcolm, Natalie Metcalf, Eleanor Cardwell, Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, Joanne Harten, Helen Housby
Friday, July 29 – Trinidad & Tobago
Saturday, July 30 – Malawi
Monday, August 1 – Northern Ireland
Tuesday, August 2 – Uganda
Thursday, August 4 – New Zealand