Australia Diamonds named to face Ferns
Catherine Cox is poised to become the fourth Australian netballer to reach the 100-cap milestone while her West Coast Fever teammate Ashleigh Brazill is the only debutant-in-waiting as the world champions prepare for a busy international schedule.
New Zealand-born goal shoot Cox could join Liz Ellis, Sharelle McMahon and Vicki Wilson as a Diamonds' centurion when the second Constellation Cup test against the Silver Ferns is played in Auckland on September 20.
Cox and captain Natalie Von Bertouch were both named despite carrying niggling injuries, coach Lisa Alexander was confident the key duo would be for the season-opening trans-Tasman clash with New Zealand in Melbourne on September 16.
While Cox, 36, is nearing the end of her illustrious career, Brazill is the new component in a highly contestable midcourt.
Brazill was primarily a bench player at the NSW Swifts but following Cox to Perth this season to develop her game under legendary coach Norma Plummer proved a wise career move.
The 22-year-old was a fixture in the Fever's optimum line-up and continued to impress in the Diamonds selection camp.
"She's a prodigious talent and I think she's stepped up again this year and certainly her performances at this squad camp have been first class," Alexander said.
Alexander has included three additional players to the traditional 12 player squad the Constellation Cup series and October's Quad-Series which also features England and South Africa.
"It's about ensuring that we're giving our Diamonds as much exposure to international competition as possible in preparation for 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2015 World Netball Championships in Sydney," Alexander said.
The enlarged squad has facilitated recalls for defender Bianca Chatfield and shooter Susan Pratley for the first time since the Diamonds lost the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medal match against the Silver Ferns in New Delhi.
Chatfield's return left Fever defender Susan Fuhrmann, a member of last year's world championship-winning squad as the most notable omission.
"I've known Susan quite closely now for a couple of years and she's one incredible woman in so many ways and it was a very tough decision," Alexander said.
"We took every avenue and thoroughly discussed every scenario and gave Susan every opportunity but the sort of person she is, she took it on the chin and wished everyone well which shows the type of person that she is."
Uncapped shooters Tegan Caldwell, Karyn Howarth, Caitlin Thwaites plus midcourters Emily Beaton and Renae Hallinan also missed out after the attending the selection camp.
Defender Sharni Layton was unavailable for selection due to injury.
Australian Diamonds: Natalie von Bertouch (Adelaide Thunderbirds, captain), Catherine Cox (West Coast Fever, vice-captain), Caitlin Bassett (West Coast Fever), Erin Bell (Adelaide Thunderbirds), Ashleigh Brazill (West Coast Fever), Madison Browne (Melbourne Vixens), Rebecca Bulley (Adelaide Thunderbirds), Bianca Chatfield (Melbourne Vixens), Julie Corletto (Melbourne Vixens), Laura Geitz (Queensland Firebirds), Mo'onia Gerrard (NSW Swifts), Kimberlee Green (NSW Swifts), Natalie Medhurst (Queensland Firebirds), Chelsea Pitman (Queensland Firebirds), Susan Pratley (NSW Swifts).