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BNA off Brit tour pace

Sherrylyn A. Toppin

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Tickets for the first day of April’s three-Test netball series between Barbados and England have already sold out and preparations are well under way in England.
But here in Barbados, no senior national netball coach, assistant coach or manager has been announced and no senior national squad is in training.
England Netball made the announcement about the sold out tickets on Wednesday, only two days after they announced that tickets for the series were available.
“We’ve just heard that the England versus Barbados game at the Surrey Sports Park is now sold out. No tickets remaining,” was the announcement on their Facebook page.
It also urged spectators to move quickly to secure tickets for the remaining Test matches at Birmingham and Bath.
England seem to be eagerly anticipating the visit from Barbados.
On their website promos are out advertising ticket prices which range from £12 for junior members to £54 for a family of four.
“This Easter, international netball returns to England. This is the first chance to catch the national squad in action since their amazing win at the World Netball Series in November,” it says in part.
“England are currently ranked third in the world and will be favourites to secure more success over their Caribbean counterparts who reside in ninth position in the rankings.
“This will also be the first time that head coach Anna Mayes will lead her side in a home international as preparation for the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and World Championships in 2015 begins in earnest.”
It goes on to quote Mayes as saying the series, with matches on April 10, 12 and 14, “will be an exciting opportunity to blood some of our most exciting, young, and in form players from the Superleague, against a unique Caribbean style of play.
“This series is a platform for England to display to their supporters how the squad is moving forward and challenging old and current ways.”
Part of the anticipation would have arisen from last July’s World Netball Championships in Singapore where, after a disastrous start (25-6), Barbados took the fight to England, despite losing 74-42.
England played as a team in November, but since July, the Barbados players have scattered to the winds, with experienced goal shoot Lydia Bishop also announcing her retirement.
Despite reports that Anna Shepherd is set to make her fifth run as head coach with Sandra Bruce-Small as assistant and Vaneisha Cadogan returning as manager, no announcements have been made by the Barbados Netball Association.
However, the new coach will have a formidable task ahead, trying to get a national team up to par in roughly six weeks.
Attempts by WEEKEND SPORT to get a response from public relations officer Carolene Hall and secretary Nisha Cummings were futile, with Hall stating that she was not in a position to comment.