England shooting to make 'gains under pressure'
England's netball team is in Jamaica for a three-Test series this week, however, they are viewing the matches more as an opportunity to assess the team as it prepares for this summer's Netball World Cup in Sydney, Australia, than a revenge duel against the Sunshine Girls.
So says England's team coach Anna Mayes.
"I think just gains under pressure. If we can compete, making sure that we see out games and we are driven on game possession and see consistent performance across all four quarters," Mayes told The Gleaner about their main objectives.
The English Roses, who arrived in Jamaica late Sunday for the series on January 10, 11, and 13 at the National Indoor Sports Centre, had mixed results in the latter part of 2014.
Jamaica's Sunshine Girls captured the Commonwealth Games bronze medal with a 52-48 win over the English team in Glasgow, Scotland, in August.
Following their loss in the Commonwealth Games, the English girls played Commonwealth champions Australia and runners-up New Zealand in two series in Oceania in October. They were beaten 55-37 and 54-47 by the Australian Diamonds but beat New Zealand 48-38 in the first game and were beaten 52-38 in the other.
They then beat Jamaica 31-30 to finish third at the Fast5 World Series in Auckland in November three months after and had a 2-0 series whitewash against African team Malawi in Worcester last month.
Mayes, who was with the team when it last played Jamaica in a series in 2013 and who was an assistant on previous tours to Jamaica in 2010 and 2011, told The Gleaner that this series would be an opportunity to assess the team.
"It's a principal part of our preparation, building for the World Cup. It's always hotly contested against the Sunshine Girls and it's an opportunity to see where we are playing against the number four in the world.
"I think it will be kind of an arch-rivalry. If you look at the results over the last 10 years, it has been close. When you look at the results in the previous series, it's always been very close. In 2013, we had a 3-0 series, we won. And in 2011, it was one each. So it's always very close.
"I think it's an opportunity for us to look at certain players. There are certain athletes who are missing, but the bulk will be going into the World Cup. But eight months is a long time and some may fall out and others come to fruition."
Sophia Candappa came in as a late replacement in the squad for Tamsin Greenway, who was originally named but who was advised not to travel due to personal reasons.
England squad: Jade Clarke (co-captain), Pamela Cookey (co-captain), Ama Agbeze, Sara Bayman, Sophia Candappa, Eboni Beckford-Chambers, Sam Cook, Kadeen Corbin, Sasha Corbin, Rachel Dunn, Stacey Francis, Jo Harten, Laura Malcolm, and Geva Mentor.