Diamonds’ dilemma at selection table
Australian captain Caitlin Bassett admits some of her Diamonds teammates will be left “heartbroken” when their Commonwealth Games squad is announced early next month.
The Australian side are simulating their Games schedule across a four-day camp at the AIS which began on Thursday, as they look to defend gold on the Gold Coast in April.
The Diamonds are preparing for a quad series against New Zealand, England and South Africa from January 20-28 and will fly to London at the conclusion of the camp on Sunday.
Bassett is expecting a gruelling three days of internal matchplay as players battle for a spot on the plane and a potential Commonwealth Games berth, with the Gold Coast squad to be announced shortly after the tour.
“It’s going to be tough and I’m glad I’m not a selector because there will be girls who are heartbroken,” Bassett said.
“I’ve been there myself, sitting in a room when my name wasn’t read out but it was fuel to make me work even harder the next year.
“We want to have the best of the best fighting each other for position and there is no doubt the matchplay over the next three days is going to be hotly contested.
“It’s really tough and sometimes you can be really hard on yourself, with the training camps and playing against each other all the time we know each other’s games inside out.
“We’re friends off the court but enemies on the court… Sharni Layton and I have played against each other for 10 years and you can get frustrated at times but that’s the best way to have it because you’re only going to get better by being challenged.”
Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander said her squad is anything but set as competition for spots heats up.
“We can’t wait for next couple of weeks in England and South Africa but we’ve just got this little camp to get through first which is going to provide a great challenge for this group as we head into that competition phase and our final selection,” Alexander said.
“It’s a massive decision to make for myself and the selectors, we certainly don’t take this selection lightly, it’s going to be very, very tough on all of these athletes.
“At the end of the day the 12 very best will represent our country but there are going to be at least nine that miss out.
“That’s the reality of our sport but the strength of our sport because we’ve got a million participants who play in this country and we reflect that community.”
Alexander confirmed former captain Laura Geitz is in contention for a Commonwealth Games spot after she was invited to join the Diamonds as a training partner in Canberra.
It marks her return to training with the national team after giving birth to her first child Barney last February and is the 30-year-old’s first involvement with the Australian squad since May 2016.
“At this stage Laura just wants to see how she goes, it’s been a while since Laura has been in this environment and we want to support her,” Alexander said.
“In own words are she said ‘I want to help the team be prepared to go away on this series’ and that just encapsulates her team-first attitude.
“If it works out that things present themselves and she performs very well then we’ll talk about that later.”
Bassett echoed her coach and said it was fantastic to her have Geitz back in the fold.
“We really missed her and she’s got Barney here with her as well which makes our team more like a family,” Bassett said.
“To have her experience and leadership back in the team is invaluable and to have her back out on court is great – I’m looking forward to doing battle with her.”
Australian Diamonds: Caitlin Bassett, April Brandley, Courtney Bruce, Paige Hadley, Emily Mannix, Kate Moloney, Susan Pettitt, Kim Ravaillion, Gabi Simpson, Caitlin Thwaites, Gretel Tippett, Liz Watson, Jo Weston, Stephanie Wood.