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Quad Series 2023: England head coach Jess Thirlby calls for more ‘maturity’ ahead of Netball World Cup | Netball News

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England sealed third in the 2023 Quad Series by beating hosts South Africa in Wednesday’s third-place play-off; the Roses suffered defeats to Australia and New Zealand to miss out on a place in the final

Last Updated: 25/01/23 9:02pm

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England head coach Jess Thirlby says it was important her team ended the Quad Series with a win ahead of the World Cup this summer.

England head coach Jess Thirlby says it was important her team ended the Quad Series with a win ahead of the World Cup this summer.

England head coach Jess Thirlby praised her side for showing “grit” to seal third place in the Quad Series but has admitted more “maturity” is needed ahead of this summer’s Netball World Cup.

The Roses came through a tightly contested third-place play-off against hosts South Africa to claim a first victory in their four matches at the tournament.

England had drawn with South Africa in the opening phase of the tournament, either side of defeats to champions Australia and runners-up New Zealand.

The competition marked the final opportunity for England – and their rivals – to prepare for the World Cup, which begins on July 28 in Cape Town.

“It was scrappy, it wasn’t the prettiest of wins,” Thirlby told Sky Sports. “But I think given the journey through the Quad Series that we’ve had, I thought it was a good way for us to finish and show the grit, in particular, that I think this team have become known for.”

Watch the highlights of the third-placed playoff between England and South Africa in the Netball Quad Series.

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Watch the highlights of the third-placed playoff between England and South Africa in the Netball Quad Series.

Watch the highlights of the third-placed playoff between England and South Africa in the Netball Quad Series.

“It’s been a good journey. We’ve just got to keep finding away to compete with those ranked above us.

“We’re respectful of the likes of New Zealand and Australia, but we’ve actually found ways to get a foothold against them, which is a little bit of new territory for us that we’ve got to grow a maturity around how to finish those games and punish them more.”

The Quad Series quickly followed England’s three-match home contest with Jamaica, against whom Thirlby’s side delivered an impressive 2-1 triumph.

England are ranked third in the word, a place ahead of Jamaica. Australia top the rankings from New Zealand, while South Africa are fifth.

Thirlby reflects on a 'bittersweet' loss against New Zealand but says several players have stood out for selection to play in the netball World Cup this summer.

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Thirlby reflects on a ‘bittersweet’ loss against New Zealand but says several players have stood out for selection to play in the netball World Cup this summer.

Thirlby reflects on a ‘bittersweet’ loss against New Zealand but says several players have stood out for selection to play in the netball World Cup this summer.

“In the couple of weeks after this, there’s going to be so much information for us to take, and it’s important to acknowledge that,” Thirlby said.

“These games are here for a purpose. We put ourselves out in two back-to-back series, it’s a big ask of the group but it’s exactly what we needed ahead of the summer.”

The Quad Series brings to an end a congested period for England, which saw them miss out on a medal at a home Commonwealth Games in the summer, and then beat Uganda at home before losing 3-0 as they toured Australia in October and November.

Highlights of the Netball Quad Series clash between England and New Zealand.

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Highlights of the Netball Quad Series clash between England and New Zealand.

Highlights of the Netball Quad Series clash between England and New Zealand.

“I don’t think I can combat all of the noise and the criticisms, but I will absolutely defend this group to the hilt,” Thirlby said.

“Their cohesion, togetherness and loyalty to one and other is unquestionable. They review wins and losses exactly the same way, which is exactly what any championship winning side that’s on track to try to learn to win more consistently should be doing.

“So this team for me, they’re the most together group that I’ve worked with and it’s an absolute joy to see their team resilience grow over the course of January.”

‘No ignoring Fadoju’ | ‘Wrap her up in cotton wool’

Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of England’s performances during the Quad Series was the continued emergence of Funmi Fadoju, who has established herself as a key player ahead of the World Cup.

Having made her senior international debut against Uganda in October, the 20-year-old defender looks set to become one of the biggest stars in the sport.

Funmi Fadoju showed off her quick reaction skills with two stunning interceptions against South Africa in the netball Quad Series.

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Funmi Fadoju showed off her quick reaction skills with two stunning interceptions against South Africa in the netball Quad Series.

Funmi Fadoju showed off her quick reaction skills with two stunning interceptions against South Africa in the netball Quad Series.

Her brilliance was on show against South Africa as a series of turnovers helped England to victory.

“There’s no ignoring Funmi Fadoju,” Thirlby said. “If there’s anyone to give a little bit more credit to, I think it’s Funmi today.

“She really picks her moments, with such maturity, to sense that intuition when in the game we need it the most.

“I just think her contribution was excellent, but those around her really allow her to flourish.”

Fadoju reflects on England's win over South Africa in the Quad Series third place playoff and praises teammate Jade Clarke on her 200th cap for England.

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Fadoju reflects on England’s win over South Africa in the Quad Series third place playoff and praises teammate Jade Clarke on her 200th cap for England.

Fadoju reflects on England’s win over South Africa in the Quad Series third place playoff and praises teammate Jade Clarke on her 200th cap for England.

Former England player Pamela Cookey agreed with Thirlby’s assessment that the Roses have found the ideal setup to allow Fadoju to thrive.

“This was the defensive team that we know and love,” Cookey said on Sky Sports.

“That support that Fadoju had from Geva (Mentor) at the back allows her to go and play out the front – she had Jade (Clarke) at centre and Layla (Guscoth) at wing defence.

“That combination is safe, it’s tried, it’s tested and we’ve seen them get so much ball, so once you put that on there, she can then fly.”

How can England prepare for the World Cup? Tamsin Greenway and Pamela Cookey discuss ahead of England and South Africa in the semi-final in the Quad series.

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How can England prepare for the World Cup? Tamsin Greenway and Pamela Cookey discuss ahead of England and South Africa in the semi-final in the Quad series.

How can England prepare for the World Cup? Tamsin Greenway and Pamela Cookey discuss ahead of England and South Africa in the semi-final in the Quad series.

Former Roses player Tamsin Greenaway was also wowed by Fadoju’s performance, but expressed concern over England’s deficiencies in attack.

“Defensively, they were brilliant,” Fadoju said. “I can’t fault it all through the court, they are doing such a good job.

“But attack was static at times, the highest quarter was a 13-goal quarter. Even if that last quarter where Funmi got us about seven balls, we still only put 13 on the board.

“We’re going to have to look it and adjust. I think playing the strongest line-up just helps you get a good run.

“Defensively brilliant, and just wrap Funmi in cotton wool (until the World Cup).”

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The Hundred: Welsh Fire name Mike Hussey head coach of men’s team | Cricket News

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Australian Mike Hussey has been confirmed as the new head coach of the Welsh Fire men’s team ahead of the third year of The Hundred.

Hussey played over 300 times for his country, and has extensive experience of white-ball leagues around the globe as both a player and a coach. Most recently, Hussey was part of the England men’s team’s coaching staff in their successful ICC T20 World Cup campaign.

He arrives into the role ahead of Deadline Day, and The Hundred Draft, in which his team will have first pick.

Hussey, known within the game as ‘Mr Cricket’, said: “I’m really looking forward to getting started at Welsh Fire and being part of The Hundred.

“From a distance it looks a fantastic competition to be involved in, one that’s attracting big crowds and getting lots of kids interested in the game.

“For my part, hopefully I can get help get things moving in the right direction on the pitch in Cardiff and give all of those fans who’ve been coming to watch something to really get excited about.”

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Hussey played over 300 times for Australia

Mark Wallace, cricket manager of Welsh Fire, said: “We’re thrilled to be able to appoint someone of the calibre of Mike. There are few better people around the world with the relevant expertise and knowledge of white-ball cricket to help take us forward.

“It’s really exciting to have him on board, and we look forward to working together to hopefully bring some on-field success to the team and our fans.”

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NBA alternate jerseys (Lakers, Knicks, Celtics) are an eyesore

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NBA, I’m ready to bargain. I complain regularly about the uniforms because back when the NBA was a proper league, the home team wore white except for the Los Angeles Lakers gold. I can accept that those days are long gone, but Adam Silver please meet me 25 percent of the way. If a classic matchup is taking place — like say the Lakers and New York Knicks — let’s show some reverence for history and wear the traditional jerseys.

It happened again

This is the second time in less than a week that the NBA has besmirched a nationally televised matchup between two of the NBA’s most historic franchises. On Tuesday, the Knicks broke out those black City Edition jerseys and that ugly black court. The Lakers wore white, and not the snazzy Sunday whites either. They went with a hybrid of their old white and blue jerseys with gold trim.

So the decision for the night was to go with colors that don’t exist in either team’s logo, one uniform was somewhat of a throwback and the other looked like it belonged to Batman’s rec-league team. And to top it all off, the design of the league’s most legendary court was changed to the point where it didn’t even look like Madison Square Garden on television. The retro style of the Lakers’ jerseys wasn’t awful but if we’re going to do throwbacks, how about the colors both franchises wore when they played against each other three out of four NBA Finals in the 1970s?

Not just at MSG, but also in Boston

And let’s not forget about the atrocity that took place at TD Garden on Saturday night. ABC’s NBA Saturday night special between the Lakers and the Boston Celtics. The disrespect that was shown to the rivalry that saved the league was appalling.

For one, the Lakers wore gold. The Lakers used to never wear their gold on the road, and that most certainly was the case during those heated 1980s NBA Finals clashes. As disrespectful as that choice was to this rivalry, at least it’s a style the Lakers did use at that time. The Celtics broke out their new forest-green City Edition uniform. That clash of colors looked like a bunch of boogers jumping around on the court.

I know those jerseys were designed to honor Bill Russell. However, if the NBA really wanted to honor him, how about having the two teams wear the jerseys that they wore when his squad upset Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, and Jerry West in 1969? The league makes the decision on which jerseys the players wear for every game, so it should keep this in mind when its most storied teams are playing against each other.

One of the charms about the NBA is that it’s a newer league than the NFL, NHL, and MLB, and also very different. With less equipment and no barrier between the fans and the players, the feel is more intimate, and it carries over outside of the arena. You can’t walk around school in Air Rickey baseball spikes, but a fresh pair of Air Jordans could make someone the coolest kid in the building.

Dare to be different

The NBA has always been willing to dare to be different to better market the product, but there is a point when it can deviate too far from its roots. I can deal with the coaches in quarter zips. Some think it looks amateurish, but if Bill Belichick can dress the way he does on the sidelines then Doc Rivers shouldn’t be forced to sweat for two hours in a suit.

An alternate jersey — perhaps even two — is fine. I loved the cerulean (shout out to you Miranda) Orlando Magic jersey of the early 1990s, and even some of the Christmas Day uniforms. That being said, there is some tradition in the NBA.

I wasn’t alive for Magic vs. Larry, but I know the significance of it. Sure the Knicks don’t make the playoffs much anymore, but Madison Square Garden is the Mecca of basketball. Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, and white Ford Broncos — those are memories attached to that building and the Knicks that I’ll never forget.

So feel free NBA to play around with the uniforms in other matchups. When the Lakers play the Dallas Mavericks, or the Memphis Grizzlies on national TV put the teams’ City vs. Statement edition uniforms or whatever, but show some reverence to the history of the league.

It may be shorter than the other leagues, but the history that exists means a great deal to those of us who were hypnotized by the NBA a long time ago, and the spell was never broken. When classic matchups — especially the out-of-conference ones — take place, go with a classic atmosphere. Leave Batman and boogers for another day.

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Virginia JV basketball coach pretends to be 13-year-old student

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Adult sensibilities don’t belong in youth sports. Grown people take sports way too seriously. Countless times overzealous parents, coaches, and spectators have tainted the purity of amateur sports. An assistant coach on the staff of the junior varsity basketball team in Portsmouth, Virginia recently attempted to pull off a dumb 21 Jump Street con. The original 21 Jump Street lasted five seasons. Churchville’s version lasted all of one day. Left wondering how to reconfigure the allocation of minutes after a 13-year-old hooper for the Churchland H.S. Truckers junior varsity basketball team skipped a matchup against Nasemond River to attend an out-of-town basketball tournament for her club team, assistant coach Arlisha Boykins saw it as her opportunity to become the first player-coach in high school basketball.

Shenanigans

According to WAVY-TV, Boykins stepped in for the game against girls aged 13-15 by representing herself as the absent teenage girl. However, the girls player who was impersonated was aware of Boykins’ stunt and plans to transfer to another school.

Video of the game shows Boykins doggin’ out her pre-teen opponents, exhibiting an advanced skill set against whippersnappers, swatting their shots into oblivion, draining stepbacks in their grills, snagging boards, and building her highlight reel. On the George Santos Fabulists Scale, an assistant coach impersonating a JV player just to serve ‘em on the floor is about a seven on a scale of one through 10 in terms of bizarreness.

What was the point?

There’s an extensive, sordid history of adults who can’t let go of their hoop dreams, returning to high school so they can compete against teenagers, but most of their plots are a little more sophisticated. What was the endgame? Win the JV title she never won as an underclassman?

There was no need to run a sting operation to catch Boykins in the act. Not only was Boykins an assistant coach, but this was the JV team! She couldn’t even make varsity in her 20s. Did a 23-year-old woman pretending to be a high school freshman really think parents or employees of the school wouldn’t notice or that if her harebrained scheme worked out that players wouldn’t gossip? If this were an episode of 21 Jump Street, it would have been over in half an hour.

“Coaches always preach to the kids about integrity and those types of things, so I was just shocked,” the father of the 13-year-old said.

This absurd development wouldn’t have even been possible without the explicit approval of Churchville’s head coach. What other life lessons were these coaches imparting to their young players? How to get away with identity fraud?

The unanswered questions left here are endless. One thing we do know is Churchville quickly cleaned house. The junior varsity coach who approved of Boykins’ deception and the varsity head coach who allegedly “encouraged [Boykins’] behavior” were both dismissed by the school. Boykins’ bizarre move should be the end of her coaching career before it ever really began, but there are worse figures who’ve returned from exile. Unfortunately for the girls who were coerced into participating in Boykins’ scheme, their season was also canceled posthaste amid the scandal.

In the end, it’s the kids who are typically harmed by the sins of the purportedly responsible adults. 

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