It has become tradition for the Netball World Cup to be decided by a close encounter.
And with the sport at the strongest point it’s ever been globally, we’re expecting no different in Liverpool.
Lucky for Australia, the captain has been there and done that.
Back in 2011 on World Cup debut in Singapore, a young Caitlin Bassett was handed the GS bib by Norma Plummer and told to “go out and have a crack”.
Playing with freedom, Bassett shot the match-winning goal in the dying seconds.
Looking back, it’s an effort she told the ABC was “easy”.
“There was no pressure or expectation of me and I was lucky to make that tour,” she said.
“I probably went along as the fourth shooter and I just wanted to get out there and have a great game, and I think I did.”
It was a dream start to World Cup netball and four years later Bassett got her second taste at World Cup glory, when the Diamonds beat New Zealand by three goals in Sydney.
Even at the domestic level we’ve become accustomed to tight finishes.
Now that bonus points are awarded each quarter, teams are pushing harder to force a result each fifteen minutes.
The Australians have been practising similar scenarios at their camps in Sydney and Manchester, and Bassett says Super Netball has certainly emphasised the need for clarity at the end of a close encounter.
“I’ve been a part of a draw, we’ve had some narrow wins and some narrow losses already this year with the Giants,” she said.
“So we are fully prepared if it is going to come down to the wire.”
No doubt this also has to do with the heartbreak of the last Commonwealth Games, where Australia were unable to stop England swooping in to steal gold with a nail-biting finish.
The host country, New Zealand, South Africa and Jamaica all head into this tournament with a good chance at challenging the Diamond’s defence of a fourth-straight title.
And if Bassett has got her tips right, you can expect some upsets.
“Now that more players are arriving to play in our league experiencing the best competition in the world, they’re all going back to their teams and helping raise the standard of netball.”
“There’s always going to be upsets at big tournaments like this as well.”
Strength in combinations
Head coach Lisa Alexander listed Australia’s versatility as one of their biggest assets and has been trialling multiple combinations to ensure the side hold some unpredictability.
Each player has been training in a range of positions, except Bassett who quickly shut down any ideas of her playing at goal keeper.
“Yeah look I think I’m the only player in the team that doesn’t play multiple positions,” she joked.
“You could probably push me out to goal attack if we were desperate but I definitely agree that the versatility and fitness of our team is one of our strengths.
“It’s hard when you sit down and look at who should start because we have so many different combinations that we can put out there but it’s a good headache for a coach to have.”
Drawing on past Diamonds for inspiration
Australia’s World Cup dress incorporates the names of all 176 previous and current players to don the green and gold.
The tribute is extremely sentimental for Bassett, who described it as humbling.
“You only need to look down at your dress and know that the women that came before you have provided the opportunities to represent your country and I get goose bumps thinking about it.”
Now the captain, Bassett hopes she can have a positive impact on the squad by putting her own spin on the things she learnt from her previous teammates.
“I’ve received some lovely messages, one of them from Catherine Cox this morning saying good luck and I was reminiscing about my first World Cup with her and how much help she gave me for that final match where I did get to come on and shoot the winning goal.”
“I had Laura Geitz at the next World Cup, captaining and being a great leader and mentor there.”
“I’m just really lucky to have such a great group of girls and that leading them is easy, so it’s a massive honour to lead the country.”
Australia play their first preliminary match against Northern Ireland tonight and will also get a first look at Zimbabwe before the two teams meet on Saturday.