Netball has been a popular sport for over fifty years, and has become one of the major women’s sports in a number of countries. Traditionally, it has been dominated by commonwealth countries, especially Australia and New Zealand. Australia has won ten of fifteen World Netball Championships – including the most recent in 2015 – and has dominated almost every international competition they have played in. It makes sense therefore that the Aussie team contains some of the best netballers in the world. Here are the top five Aussie players of the modern era*:
1. Caitlin Bassett
Often considered to be one of the best goal shooters in netball history, Caitlin Bassett has gone from strength to strength over the past few years. According to most netball experts and major publications, Bassett is the most valuable player in world netball. She has been a part of the Australian Diamonds international team since 2008, and is renowned for her accurate shooting.
Probably the best example of this was in the 2011 World Netball Championships, where she missed just four goals for the entire tournament. Her final score of 151 from 155 shots, going at 97.5%, is considered one of the best individual tournament performances ever. She has a best score of 49 goals in a game, reached twice during her career.
In 2015 Basset was the first goal shooter to win the Liz Ellis Diamonds award, which recognizes Australia’s player of the year. Her 2015 campaign saw her shoot 964 goals in both international and domestic competition, which was a career best. She was also the first Western Australian to be awarded the Liz Ellis Diamonds award.
2. Sharni Layton
Sharni Layton is one of the Diamond’s defensive stalwarts, having held down a position at wing defence, goal defence, or goal keeper since her debut in 2010. She has consistently been among the best players for the New South Wales Swifts, winning their Player’s Player Award in 2014. In 2010, Layton was crowned the best young player of the MARS ANZ championship.
Layton took her game to the next level in 2015, as she was crowned the ANZ Championship Player of the Year. She finished her year as the top Australian defender, with 49 intercepts, 112 deflections, 85 gains, and 36 defensive rebounds. This led to her first selection in the ANZ Championship All-Star team.
Following her break-out 2015 season, Layton has enjoyed a stella 2016. As the Diamond’s acting Vice-Captain for much of the year, she has helped lead the team to a number of important victories, including a those over fellow world heavy weights England, New Zealand, and South Africa. With Layton’s leadership from Goal Keeper, Australia recently bought home the inaugural Netball Quad Series title with a five goal win over New Zealand.
3. Natalie Medhurst
Medhurst has been a part of the Australian team since 2007, and is among the most capped players in history, with 80 international games to her name. She has been a part of three Netball World Championship winning teams, and has won both a gold and a silver medal at the Commonwealth games.
At 32 years old, Medhurst is one of the oldest international players in the world. However, this hasn’t stopped her from continually improving, and it could be argued that she is a better player now than she has ever been. A good example of this is the fact the she was named the Most Valuable Player in the Diamond’s last match, the final of the Netball Quad Series.
Although Medhurst has forged her reputation as one of the world’s best goal attackers and goal scorers over the past decade or so, she has recently begun to play in wing attack more regularly. However when she returns to goal attack, she continues to show why her and Caitlin Bassett form one of the best attacking combinations in the world.
4. Kim Ravaillion
At just 23 years old, Kim Ravaillion has rapidly progressed through netball rankings to become one of the world’s premier centers. She is the only player to have ever made her international debut before her ANZ Championship debut, a feat she achieved at just 19. She has become one of the shining lights of Australian netball, playing important roles in Australia’s wins in the recent Netball Quad Series, the 2015 World Championship, and the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Ravaillion is one of world netball’s most consistent and exciting young players, and barring injury, we can expect her to take the title as the world’s best at some point in the next few years. With her strong influence in the center of the court, expect the Diamonds to be extremely difficult to beat in the near future.
5. Laura Geitz
Although she has recently taken an indefinite break from netball, as she is expecting the birth of her first child, former Australian Captain Laura Geitz deserves a mention as one of the best players of the modern era. In her 29 games as captain of the Diamonds, she has lost just three. In that time, she has led Australia to gold medals at both the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the 2015 Netball World Cup. She has shaped the Australian team into the near unbeatable force that they are today.
In 2011 Geitz won the Liz Ellis Diamonds award as the best Australian player, and has probably deserved to win it again since. She is (or was) the second most capped player in the Diamonds squad, behind the evergreen Natalie Medhurst. She is also just the second Queenslander to reach 50 test caps and to captain Australia. Hopefully we will see more of Getiz’s great game in the future!
*Rankings are based on The Guardian’s end of 2015 player rankings. They were judged by a panel of international netball experts, including international coaches.
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