Questions should be raised on Mystics' tactic

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 22/05/2012
Anna Harrison
Getty Images
BLOCK PARTY: Northern Mystics defender Anna Harrison leaps to block a Vixens shot, which has sparked much discussion in netball circles.

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OPINION: Thank goodness for Northern Mystics coach Debbie Fuller.

There a lot of us were, sitting around and feeling a wee bit miffed, even disgusted, after seeing Mystics defender Anna Harrison getting thrown up in the air to intercept shots, on Sunday night.

Fuller put the record straight yesterday, though. You see, having Jess Moulds lift Harrison was actually a great moment in netball's evolution and you'd have to be dim not to recognise that.

"We are still in Australia and there are people not happy about it. The players are, but the non-educated public aren't," Fuller said.

She went on, congratulating and justifying herself in equal measure. It was hard to share any of Fuller's enthusiasm for the tactic, but then it's difficult to react any other way when you're "non-educated". Or you believe in fairness.

What Fuller and the Mystics did, against the Melbourne Vixens, was as underhand as "the underarm" delivery, back in 1981. Lifting is allowed in netball's rules, just as there was nothing in the laws of cricket preventing a bowler from rolling the ball along the pitch, all those years ago.

But there's a huge distinction between what's permissible and what's right.

Cricket reacted swiftly to the underarm, outlawing it almost immediately. Most netball people, admittedly from this country, have applauded Fuller and Harrison and the game's governing body see no harm in what happened at Melbourne's Hisense Arena.

"I don't personally think you'll see a lot of it. It's a novelty and you've got some people that will be better at it than others," IFNA match officials panel chairwoman Dawn Jones said.

"If it became an epidemic, then it may require some looking at, but I doubt that's going to be the case."

Just sit and think of all the offences, real or imagined, that a netball player can be whistled for during a match. Laughable would describe most of them.

And yet it's entirely appropriate for a team-mate to hoist another, as an unsuspecting opponent prepares to put up a shot. Now that is a joke.

Instead the Mystics are being congratulated on putting into practice a ploy that people have unsuccessfully tried during training sessions for years. Would those same people be happy if the architect of this particular atrocity were nasty old Norma Plummer?

Netballers have long been admired for playing their game hard but fair. Sadly, there is nothing honourable about this.

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- The Dominion Post

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