I think that the best way to sum up this Diamonds team is that it is a good team with the potential to be a great one. I know it’s a bit boring to agree with selectors, but it’s hard to get too upset about a side that contains a good balance of experienced campaigners and in-form youngsters.
There are no glaring omissions, no players to feel outraged on behalf of, and no outright surprises.
While there are couple of big changes in the defensive end and the midcourt, they were relatively obvious. The dominant form of the NSW Swifts forced the selectors to include two of their best players, goal keeper Sarah Klau and centre Paige Hadley.
Klau is the only debutant and comes in at the expense of the Vixens’ Mannix, who could consider herself unlucky in that after doing everything right for the past couple of years, she has been usurped by another young player in red-hot form.
Hadley’s selection is interesting because she was the bolter for the 2015 World Cup, selected as a fresh-faced youngster who looked to have the world at her feet and a long career in the Diamonds ahead of her. Yet almost as soon as she was selected, she was out of favour again, dropped the following year and not sighted near the Diamonds until 2019. For a midcourt player, timing is everything, and Hadley’s timing to be in match-winning form every four years is extraordinary.
Of course it isn’t just that. Four kilograms of muscle bulked on in the off-season and a new attitude to the game and her team have helped Hadley immeasurably.
While Klau and Hadley picked themselves, the real dilemma facing selectors was the wing defence position. In a battle for the ages, the Giants’ Jamie-Lee Price has emerged triumphant. While she is a good selection and thoroughly deserves her spot, Diamonds vice-captain Simpson would have been hard to overlook.
I feel for Simpson. Her timing is the opposite of Hadley’s, in that after she was the understudy to the brilliant Renae Ingles (then Hallinan) at the 2015 World Cup, it seemed the past three seasons were sending her inexorably towards her first World Cup.
That she wont be there is not the end of her career. Ingles was herself left out of the 2011 World Cup team, with the 2015 event a personal triumph for her. There is no reason why Simpson can’t do much the same in four year’s time.
And that is the beauty of this Diamonds team. The questions that have been answered in this selection process are not permanent solutions, and there are a host of athletes out there who will keep giving selectors headaches in the next few years.