The Netball World Cup will tip off on Friday, July 12 and will last through until the final on Sunday, July 21.
The tournament will be initially split into four groups, with the three in each forming Groups E and F in the second phase, while the losers file into one of their own. The top two of E and F will compete to decide the winner of the competition, while the rest battle for their own placings.
The She Cranes are grouped with favourites England, in Group D that also has Scotland (seventh) and Samoa (14th).
England who open their campaign against Uganda on July 12, however, need to break the Australia-New Zealand dominance to lift the elusive trophy on home soil.
Guardian writers made their prediction of the outcome.
Winners – England
World Cup best: 2nd, 1975.
Squad: Jade Clarke, Rachel Dunn, Layla Guscoth, Serena Guthrie (c), Jo Harten, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Helen Housby, Geva Mentor, Natalie Panagarry, Chelsea Pitman, Ebony Usoro-Brown, Francesca Williams.
Coach: Tracey Neville.
Form guide: England finally proved in 2018 that they can stand up in big games and pull out a win when it counts. However, having done it as underdogs, will they be able to replicate this form when all eyes are on them? Australia’s coach, Lisa Alexander, claimed that the gold for England came a year too early and will put undue pressure on them at home. With a good mix of experience and youth, this looks to be the strongest team on paper. But they will face tough competition from Jamaica and South Africa in the cross-over games and will need to hold their nerve in front of a home crowd that have now learnt to expect gold from their Roses.
Key player: Geva Mentor seems to get better with age and her experience playing on the shooters of all the top five nations will be invaluable.
Runners Up – Australia
World Cup best: Winners 1963, 1971, 1975, 1979, 1983, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2007, 2011, 2015.
Squad: Caitlin Bassett (c), April Brandley, Kelsey Browne, Courtney Bruce, Paige Hadley, Sarah Klau, Jamie-Lee Price, Caitlin Thwaites, Gretel Tippett, Liz Watson, Jo Weston, Steph Wood.
Coach: Lisa Alexander.
Form guide: After a disappointing silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the Diamonds are desperate for gold. However, they are unlikely to find much competition in the group stages and gaining experience in close games is key for them to perform when it counts. Lisa Alexander has been happy with the fitness of her players, but the form of some – most notably the captain, Caitlin Bassett – in the Super Netball competition has been worrying and they do not look like a team with the same edge they had in 2015. With nine players making their World Cup debut, Australia’s squad is the least experienced of the top five nations – but having all 12 of their players competing in the world’s premier domestic competition is their key advantage.
Key player: Liz Watson leads an inexperienced midcourt and her ability to transition the ball down the court will be vital to the Diamonds’ chances.
Third – Jamaica
World Cup best: 3rd, 1991, 2003, 2007.
Squad: Romelda Aiken, Shanice Beckford, Kadie-ann Dehaney, Nicole Dixon, Stacian Facey, Jhaniele Fowler (c), Rebekah Robinson, Shamera Sterling, Adean Thomas, Jodiann Ward, Khadijah Williams, Vangalee Williams.
Coaches: Marvette Anderson and Sasher Gaye-Henry.
Form guide: Jamaica’s agonising one-goal defeat against the eventual winners, England, at the Commonwealth Games will be fresh in their minds as they approach this tournament. Despite the loss, the closeness of the margin taught them they are within a whisker of being the world’s best and they will be desperate to prove it. With talent all over the court, including four players who compete in Australia’s Super Netball league, they are a serious threat. But a lack of combinations among their key players may hurt them and they will need to be at their best to have a chance of toppling Australia or England. If they can get quality ball into the shooter Jhaniele Fowler they will be hard to stop.
Key player: Shamera Sterling has been the talk of Australia’s Super Netball and her ability to pull off amazing intercepts will be vital for Jamaica.
Fourth – New Zealand
World Cup best: Winners 1967, 1979, 1987, 2003.
Squad: Maria Folau, Laura Langman (c), Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Gina Crampton, Bailey Mes, Casey Kopua, Jane Watson, Shannon Saunders, Karin Burger, Phoenix Karaka, Katrina Rore, Te Paea Selby-Rickett.
Coach: Noeline Taurua.
Form guide: If you’re wondering where you’ve seen this squad list before, it was probably at the 2015 World Cup. For a team with little success in the past four years the decision to make very few changes and bank on experience is interesting. Fortunately they have been blessed with a kind draw, which means they will be unlikely to come up against South Africa. With only Australia and a depleted Malawi to trouble them, they are almost guaranteed a place in the semi-finals. While it is never wise to write off a Noeline Taurua-coached team, they will need to get a lot out of their battle-worn lineup in order to finish with a medal.
Key player: Laura Langman can turn New Zealand’s form around. If she has control of the game they stand a chance.
Fifth – South Africa
World Cup best: 2nd, 1995.
Squad: Erin Burger, Izette Griesel, Maryka Hotzhausen, Chawane Khanyisa, Phumza Maweni, Bongiwe Msomi (c), Lenize Potgieter, Karla Pretorius, Renske Stolz, Shadine van der Merwe, Ine Mari Venter, Vimbela Zanele.
Coach: Norma Plummer.
Form guide: A deeply unlucky draw puts the Proteas in the tough situation of needing to beat either England or Jamaica to make the semi-finals. Had they found themselves up against New Zealand they would have been more confident, but the other side of the draw doesn’t look so friendly for the South Africans. However, they will take some confidence from a win against England in the Quad Series in January and no doubt Norma Plummer has some tricks up her sleeve. The team also benefit from having six players in Australia’s Super Netball this season, including their defensive combination playing together for the Sunshine Coast Lightning.
Key player: Karla Pretorius is quite simply one of the best players in the world at the moment. She can be the difference for South Africa.
Sixth – Uganda
World Cup best: 8th, 2015.
Squad: Jesca Achan, Lilian Ajio, Mary Nuba Cholock, Betty Kizza, Ruth Meeme, Joan Nampungu, Muhayimina Namuwaya, Stella Nanfuka, Racheal Nanyonga, Sylvia Nanyonga, Stella Oyella, Peace Proscovia (c).
Coach: Rashid Mubiru.
Form guide: The darlings of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Uganda will attract plenty of fans at this World Cup. They have the potential to cause upsets early but tend to fall away at the end of tournaments. A likely classification match against South Africa may prove too much for them to snag the top-five finish.
Key player: Peace Proscovia is close to unstoppable under the post and will provide an incredible target in attack.
Seventh – Malawi
World Cup best: 5th, 2007.
Squad: Jane Chimaliro, Thandie Galleta, Joanna Kachilika (c), Alinafe Kamwala, Bridget Kumwenda, Takondwa Lwazi, Caroline Mtukule, Joyce Mvula, Grace Mwafulirwa, Loreen Ngwira, Sindi Simtowe, Towera Vinkhumbo.
Coach: Griffin Saenda.
Form guide: The loss of Mwai Kumwenda to an ACL injury is big for this Malawi team. Kumwenda was the player of the tournament at the 2015 World Cup and her influence on this team is immense. After recording a historic win against New Zealand at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, they looked to have the capability to crack the top four. Malawi’s unconventional structures and short passing game has the ability to throw off higher ranked teams, but they will need to create plenty of turnovers in defence to compensate for the absence of their strike weapon in the attacking end.
Key player: Joyce Mvula will aim to bring her form from her recent Superleague spell with Manchester Thunder and be the target Malawi need in the circle.
Eighth – Northern Ireland
World Cup best: 7th, 1983.
Squad: Noleen Armstrong, Niamh Cooper, Shaunagh Craig, Ciara Crosbie, Michelle Drayne, Gemma Lawlor, Emma Magee, Michelle Magee, Lisa McCaffrey, Caroline O’Hanlon (c), Fionnuala Toner, Neamh Woods.
Coach: Dan Ryan.
Form guide: Much has been made of the former Australian men’s player Dan Ryan being appointed as Northern Ireland’s head coach. Although Ryan’s form with the Adelaide Thunderbirds in Australia was less than stellar, he has had previous success in the UK Superleague coaching Manchester Thunder. Northern Ireland performed solidly at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and will be looking to finish higher than their current eighth-place world ranking. If Ryan uses his tactical nous to target games against teams who are vulnerable because of injury, this group has the ability to cause some upsets.
Key player: Fionnuala Toner is a tough and versatile defender who can swing between wing defence and goal defence and be a game changer when it matters.
Ninth – Trinidad and Tobago
World Cup best: 1st, 1979 (joint winners with Australia and New Zealand).
Squad: Aniecia Baptiste, Shaquanda Greene, Candice Guerero, Tahirah Hollingsworth, Onella Jack, Rhonda John-Davis (c), Kalifa McCollin, Jameela McCarthy, Shantel Seemungal, Shernece Seemungal, Daystar Swift, Samantha Wallace.
Coach: Wesley Gomes.
Form guide: Trinidad and Tobago hold the unlikely honour of being the only team other than Australia and New Zealand to have won the World Cup. After missing out on the Commonwealth Games last year, the team sailed through the Americas qualifying tournament unbeaten and will aim to take this form to Liverpool.
Key player: Samantha Wallace has been on fire for Super Netball’s ladder-leading NSW Swifts and won’t let her team down under the post.
10th – Barbados
World Cup best: 6th, 1987.
Squad: Shonette Azore-Bruce, Latonia Blackman, Samantha Browne, Damisha Croney, Brianna Holder, Rieah Holder, Amanda Knight, Rhe-Ann Niles-Mapp (c), Tonisha Rock-Yaw, Shonte Seale, Sheniqua Thomas, Shonica Wharton.
Coach: Sandra Bruce-Small.
Form guide: Barbados had a tough run at the Commonwealth Games last year, coming away with only one win. They will look to make amends for their heartbreaking two-goal extra-time defeat against Scotland in the ninth-place play-off. They come off a great qualifying tournament and will be confident taking on Singapore in their first match.
Key player: Shonette Azore-Bruce is a rock in goal keeper and will be key to Barbados fighting off the hungry attack of the higher ranked teams.
11th – Scotland
World Cup best: 6th, 1971, 1975, 1983.
Squad: Emma Barrie, Kelly Boyle, Lynsey Gallagher, Ella Gibbons, Bethan Goodwin, Sarah MacPhail, Claire Maxwell (c), Niamh McCall, Nicola McCleery, Hayley Mulheron, Emily Nicholl, Lauren Tait.
Coach: Gail Parata.
Form guide: A tough draw will make this a difficult tournament for Scotland. Despite a significant win against Northern Ireland in the qualifying tournament, they find themselves in the tougher group for the cross-over games, which is likely to leave them fighting it out for the lower placings. There is a lot to like about this team, which features only three World Cup veterans and has an average age of only 23.5 years. Although they have a rough path to tread, they will be all the better for it in the years to come.
Key player: The 19-year-old Bethan Goodwin has been dazzling spectators with her strong shooting and is likely to be a fan favourite in Liverpool.
12th – Zimbabwe
World Cup best: 2019 debut.
Squad: Sharon T Bwanali, Pauline Jani, Rudo Karume, Felisitus Kwangwa, Claris Kwaramba, Ndaizivei Madzikangava, Sharleen Makusha, Patricia Mauladi, Adelaide Muskwe, Ursula Ndlovu, Perpetua Y Siyachitema (c), Joice Takaidza.
Coach: Lloyd Makunde.
Form guide: It hasn’t been the smoothest start for the African nation who named their final 12 on 3 July – only nine days before the start of the tournament. Competing in their first World Cup, they are something of an unknown quantity and will look to capitalise on that against higher ranked teams.
Key player: Adelaide Muskwe brings some much needed experience to this team – a speedy defender who plays for Severn Stars in the UK’s Superleague.
13th – Samoa
World Cup best: 6th, 2003.
Squad: Estea Autagavaia, Ariana Luamanu, Lenora Misa, Rachel Rasmussen, Ann Helen Nu’uali’itia, Soli Ropati, Tee Salanoa, Afi Lafaiali’i Sapolu, Gene Solia-Gibb (c), Toa Tanimo, Sanita To’o, Brooke Amber Williams (c).
Coach: Frances Solia.
Form guide: Samoa come in with confidence after a significant win against Fiji at the Oceania qualifiers. Recent support from Australia has boosted the team with a professional performance analyst and physiotherapist to assist in Liverpool. They will have a tough run early but are likely to win their later games.
Key player: Gene Solia-Gibb brings experience and sporting nous to the defensive end and will be crucial to her team’s chances.
14th – Fiji
World Cup best: 6th 1999.
Squad: Adi Vakaoca Bolakoro, Kaitlyn Fisher, Episake Gaunavinaka, Uniaisi Gaunavinaka (c), Ema Mualuvu, Kelera Nawai, Lydia Panapasa, Asilika Sevutia, Aliti Toribau, Matila Vocea, Aliso Wainidroa, Laisani Waqa.
Coach: Vicki Wilson.
Form guide: Fiji did not have an easy run at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and despite cruising through the Oceania qualifying tournament with only a defeat against Samoa, they will need to improve considerably. Funding from Australia to allow them to engage a performance analyst should see an uptick in their fortunes.
Key player: Laisani Waqa can be a shooting machine – if Fiji can get her the ball, she will deliver for them.
15th – Sri Lanka
World Cup best: 9th, 1963.
Squad: Deepika Abeykoon, Dharshika Abeywickrema, Gayanjali Amarawansa, Dulanga Ambeygoda, Gayani Dissanayake, Chathurangi Jayasooriya (c), Hasitha Mendis, Nauchalie Rajapakse, Elilenthinie Sethukavalar, Tharjini Sivalingam, Dulangi Wannithileka, Thilini Waththegedera.
Coach: Thilaka Jinadasa
Form guide: After winning the 2018 Asian Championships, Sri Lanka will come into the World Cup with confidence but will need to show a great deal of resilience to pick themselves up after the pool stages and the impact of coming up against the world No 1 in Australia.
Key player: Chathurangi Jayasooriya’s anticipation in defence will be key to Sri Lanka creating turnovers when the ball is coming at them fast.
16th – Singapore
World Cup best: 8th, 1967.
Squad: Aqilah Andin, Carmen Jia M Goh, Shuyi Kwok, Pei Shan Lee, Kimberly Lim, Sindhu Nair, Siti Nurshawa Rashid, Charmaine Soh (c), Xinyi Tan, Melody Teo, Joanna Toh, Kai Wei Toh.
Coach: Natalie Milicich.
Form guide: Ranked 26th in the world, Singapore will not have an easy time of things in this tournament. The team qualified by finishing in second place at the Asian Championship last year and will be hoping to get another shot at their Asian rivals Sri Lanka to try to close the gap between them.
Key player: Charmaine Soh was the star of Singapore’s Asian Games campaign, shooting accurately and creating space in the circle.
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