Oral Tracey: The Girls tried, Jill McIntosh failed
The disappointment felt by most Jamaicans at the fourth-place finish of the Sunshine Girls at the Netball World Cup is understandable.
In all fairness to the girls, though, they played with a lot of heart, passion, commitment and self-belief throughout the entire tournament.
Australian technical director, Jill McIntosh, on the other hand, is the one that failed them and should take the bulk of the blame for the below-par results at the championship.
Unfortunately for McIntosh and the rest of the coaching staff, Jamaica and the world were able to see the games, so no 'hogwash excuses' or unfair blaming of the players will be tolerated by us, the fans.
Most of us stayed up to the wee hours of the morning to watch the games and saw exactly what went wrong. Intensity, intent and desire were not lacking on the part of the players. Ultimately, what led to the demise of the team was player fatigue.
The writing was on the wall from the first-round losses to New Zealand and England, where in both games the Sunshine Girls were competitive and indeed brilliant in the first and second quarters, but ended up losing their grip on the games in the third and fourth quarters when the intensity and performance levels dropped when coaching staff went to the bench.
This trend continued into that close one-point win of Malawi in the semi-final round, and again into the semi-final against eventual winners Australia, and by the time the crucial third-place play-off against England came around, the seven Jamaican starters who had played close to maximum minutes all tournament were clearly overworked, banged up and tired.
This is absolutely inexcusable for such an experienced coach as Jill McIntosh. The lack of depth in the squad is a function of team selection and coaching, especially for a tournament of this nature where difficult back-to-back games were always on the cards.
The onus was on the technical staff, headed by McIntosh, to select a strong-enough squad where, with prudent player rotation, optimum performances would be forthcoming when needed.
One can remember clearly some months before the start of the tournament the Australian who won two world titles as coach of her native land saying very few if any new players would be added to the Sunshine Girls squad, suggesting she had the players needed to get the job done. Obviously, she was wrong.
McIntosh and company also dropped the ball technically and tactically. The Jamaicans were one-dimensional and thus predictable in their execution, and were effectively pressured and nullified by all the stronger teams. That is also an index of coaching.
Jamaica went for an experienced foreign coach to tweak what we were doing and thus improve the efficiency and, ultimately, the results. This was sadly not achieved.
Indeed, it could be argued that McIntosh, with here comparatively expensive salary package, not only did not improve the fortunes of the team, she made them worse. I hope this is the last we have seen of McIntosh in her present capacity. Coaching is a results business and her results with the Sunshine Girls have been poor.
Netball Jamaica president Marva Bernard must also shoulder her share of the blame for her blind faith in the Australian.
As for the Girls, I feel nothing but love and sympathy for them, especially the overworked starting seven. One got the sense that they genuinely wanted to do better and make Jamaica proud. We could see it in their efforts.
Unfortunately, the Girls were let down big time by the lack of competent leadership from the boardroom, but even more so from the bench. Bon voyage, Jill.