Diamonds defender Demelza McCloud believes the resurgent Australian team will be ‘‘ready for anything’’ when they take on Malawi at WIN Entertainment Centre tonight.
And they might have to be.
Known for their flamboyant style of play, the world No5 ranked Queens are something of an unknown quantity in comparison to long-time trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand, who the Diamonds beat 4-1 in the Constellation Cup series.
It’s been two years since they last met Australia in a Test and the Queens’ starting line-up has since undergone vast changes, but maintained a free-flowing philosophy on the court.
It paid off in the modified Fast5 version of the sport last year, where Malawi stunned Australia not once, but twice during the tournament in New Zealand.
New squad addition McCloud, who is likely to play a substantial role in the two-Test series, is expecting the same expansive style of play from the African nation.
‘‘They are so exciting and they play with a lot of flare,’’ McCloud said.
‘‘It is quite unorthodox compared to how we play over here.
‘‘There is definitely some individual flashes of brilliance in some of those girls so we will look for a colourful display. ‘‘Probably not sure what we are going to get so we will just have to be ready for anything.’’
At 33, McCloud rejoined the Diamonds squad for the Malawi series after spending eight years in the wilderness at international level.
The veteran feels she didn’t do herself justice in her first stint in the National team and hopes she can uphold the high standards Australia set against the Silver Ferns.
‘‘Personally I would like to make sure I just step in and have the intensity and quality that the rest of the girls brought to the series of the Constellation Cup,’’ McCloud said.
‘‘We just want to build on our team on the performances that have already gone before us and put on a good show against Malawi.’’
McCloud was joined in the Diamonds squad by NSW Swifts’ midcourter Paige Hadley for the Malawi series and the young star is confident she can make the transition into the senior team after spending time with the under-21’s.
She intends to utilise her experiences from the World Youth Netball Championships in Scotland last month to adapt to Malawi’s style.
‘‘There is a lot of different styles of play. We played Barbados and different countries so it is about adjusting,’’ Hadley said.
‘‘Obviously the Ferns play different to Malawi and I think just adjusting to that style that I have recently played will help with
Malawi,’’ she said.