Caitlin Bassett has been dumped as Diamonds captain for the Constellation Cup series but could yet lead Australia against New Zealand at some point next month.
Test centurion Bassett had been captain since 2017 under former coach Lisa Alexander but in a changing of the guard under new boss Stacey Marinkovich was overlooked in favour of sharing leadership opportunities throughout the playing group.
Marinkovich said she’d spoken to 32-year-old Bassett and fellow former leadership group members Liz Watson and Gabi Simpson about the decision.
“It was to make sure that they were across the journey with us,” Marinkovich said.
“It’s certainly not to take away the impact or the contribution that they’ve made to the group and it certainly isn’t impacting the roles in which they’re playing with the group now.
“… Caitlin’s very passionate about the Diamonds and her position within the squad so I know she’ll continue to bring that passion and that strong leadership to the group and throughout the entire series.
“That’s the commitment she makes, that’s the type of person she is and we still want to see her leadership qualities front and centre.”
Bassett was named in the 16-woman squad despite turning her back on Super Netball to join NZ outfit Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic but her plans to play outside Australia could well have counted against her in the captaincy stakes.
A skipper will be named for each of the four matches against the Silver Ferns, in line with International Netball Federation rules, and star goal shooter Bassett could yet be one of them.
“The leadership that will be named on that day is really around the performance of our game plan and that’s where we want the leadership to come through, and obviously Caitlin’s got a huge amount of experience within the team,“ Marinkovich said.
“It’s not restricting. Just because we’ve changed the process, I guess, for this series isn’t taking away anybody’s availability or ability to be selected in those leadership positions.”
Netball Australia plans to appoint a new leadership group before the next international series.
The Diamonds arrived in Christchurch on Monday and are undertaking their 14-day hotel quarantine stint.
Once they receive the all-clear from their next round of COVID-19 tests the Diamonds will be able to train at an on-site gym, then hope to have access to a netball court within “a couple of days”.
The Diamonds face the Silver Ferns in Christchurch on March 2 and 3 before games in Tauranga on March 6 and 7.
Both Christchurch and Tauranga are at COVID-19 alert level two and if that level remained the games would be played without fans, with only 100 people allowed in stadiums due to New Zealand’s restrictions.
But if the alert level drops, all four games could be played with crowds.