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Coach floored by World Cup draw

Justin Marville

Coach floored by World Cup draw

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Just when Anna Shepherd thought she had problems with the Commonwealth Games draw, then comes along the World Cup.
Barbados’ netball coach believes it will be even harder for her senior side to advance to the knockout rounds of the sport’s 2015 world tournament following rule changes that has each of the four zones now featuring two teams in the top eight.
“I’m now trying to digest all of it,” said a shocked Shepherd just days after the initial draw was released for the rebranded World Cup.
“When it first came out I would say most of the teams in this region objected to that change. However, I guess it is something we have to live with now.
“It just means we have even more work cut out to get into the top six,” she added.
Her sentiments come just two months after Shepherd publicly questioned the make-up of the groups for next year’s Commonwealth Games, which has tenth-ranked Barbados pooled with former champs Australia, world No. 3 England, seventh-ranked Wales and regional rivals Trinidad and Tobago (No. 9).
But even more queries have been raised about the World Cup’s designation of its four, four-team groups – the first of which will see the world’s best teams New Zealand and Australia grouped together with two other teams.
It doesn’t even pay for Barbados to hold their current ranking of No. 10 as they too will find themselves in that group with the top two seeds along with whichever team is ranked number nine, currently Trinidad, as of July 2014 .
And just as the first group will feature Australia and New Zealand, the three other pools will be headed by third and fourth seeds, fifth and sixth, then seventh and eighth.
It is all part of the organizers’ aim to increase the number of competitive games as there have been fan complaints over lopsided affairs in the round robin stage and the fact that the top teams didn’t meet until the semis of the previous World Championships.
“What we’re aiming to deliver with this event format is many more [tight] contests across the ten-day event than we’ve seen previously,” Netball World Cup chief executive officer Marne Fechner told the media recently.
“I still feel we can compete,” said Shepherd of Barbados’ chances under the new format.
“We got a chance to see what we have to build on and we also got a chance to see our strengths and the goal will always be to finish in the top six.”
Under the new format, the 11th and 12th-ranked teams will join Nos. 3 and 4 in the second group, while 13th and 14th-rated teams have been pooled with No. 5 and No. 6 in the third group.
The last pool will feature Nos. 7, 8, 15 and 16.