Tamsin Greenway gives her thoughts and analysis after the Vitality Roses’ first series victory on New Zealand soil.
Before we get into the key lessons from this Test series, let’s first hail the Roses’ ability to come from behind, get back into a game and then move into a winning position.
This series in New Zealand showed us that England teams do not crumble anymore. This is a team, and a group of players, who believe that they can take wins from any position and that’s incredibly important belief to have on the international stage.
Tactically, head coach Jess Thirlby got so many aspects of the tour right; from breaking down New Zealand’s zone to making changes when they needed to be made, and those changes having an immediate impact on contests.
Also, another positive the Roses can take away from this series is the fact players who have not had exposure to netball overseas – like Eleanor Cardwell, Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, Fran Williams and Imogen Allison – can all play and thrive at this level.
Overall, the Vitality Roses deserve a huge amount of credit for winning a series in New Zealand.
It’s an amazing achievement and something an England side has not been able to do before. The Kiwi style is one that traditionally England teams favour the least, so to come from 1-0 down to win a series is outstanding.
In my column before the series started, I said I did not think it was going to be a 3-0 sweep either way and it was going to be close. After watching all three matches, I have to say this was one of the most intriguing Test series I have enjoyed between nations.
🌹 @EnglandNetball win the Cadbury Netball Series and the Taini Jamison Trophy.
It's a first series victory for England on New Zealand soil and what a final goal too!
— Sky Sports Netball (@SkyNetball) September 24, 2021
The series itself has posed quite a number of questions for England, because the players within the squad produce different individual styles and all play in different ways.
As Geva Mentor said after the final Test, there’s competition across the board and the focus will continue to turn on head coach Thirlby in terms of selecting series squads, match-day squads and ultimately, the final squad for Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
My only slight irk with this series – and there is only one small one because I have loved it – was that England got themselves out of trouble and out of difficult situations by changing people.
Now, it’s not a problem to do that; it’s style of coaching and a way of approaching things but at some point, I would like to see a seven stay out there. That way you can learn if they can figure it out, trust in the process and find a way to do what you are asking them to.
Using that approach – changing personnel to get out of trouble – was really successful on this tour though and overall, this was a series filled with outstanding performances from English players.
Now, the Roses are scheduled to head to Australia and let’s not forget that Natalie Haythornthwaite, Helen Housby, Jo Harten and Stacey Francis-Bayman are set to join the group there.
After seeing the continued development of the depth and the talent within English netball right now, three Tests against the Australian Diamonds is a really exciting prospect.
Following years of hard work, there’s a significant group of England players who are all pushing each other, fighting to get into a Test series squad and then a match-day squad.
Jess Thirlby’s job is getting harder and harder, in the best possible way, and I am intrigued to see what happens next. In all, it’s a very exciting time for England Netball and I would say, a frightening time for the rest of the world!