England’s women launch another bid to make netball history when their three-game Test series with world number one side Australia gets underway, with live coverage on Sky Sports.
Head coach Anna Mayes leads her team to contest the first match of the series against the Diamonds at the University of Bath on Sunday, January 20, before heading to the capital and Wembley Arena on Wednesday evening.
They will conclude the series at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham on Saturday, January 26, with Sky Sports screening live coverage of all three games from the series, plus live radio commentary for the first time on BBC 5 live Sports Extra.
The reigning World Champions Australia were last in the UK three years ago when they won the series 2-1, so England have a point to prove.
The national team have never won a Test series against the Aussies, but came within two points of that feat when the teams last met on English shores in 2010.
England ended their 29-year wait for a victory over the world number ones after a 41-40 triumph in the opening meeting of their three-Test series.
At the time, England were being coached by Sue Hawkins, who wore the colours of Australia when they were last beaten by England in 1981, but their joy was short-lived as the Aussies levelled the series with a 53-48 success a day later.
The Diamonds broke English hearts with a 45-43 triumph in the deciding match.
Mayes’ side step up to this mammoth task fresh from their series victory over Jamaica in September.
England saw off the Sunshine Girls with a fourpoint success in the deciding game.
Fans will hope that win will give the ladies in red and white the belief that they can finally end the nation’s wait to take the bragging rights from Australia.
England have performed very well recently, closing the gap on their rivals and have their sights firmly set on Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games in 2014, so it looks set to be a thrilling series.
Sky Sports will be covering all three tests live with coverage presented from each venue by Ingrid Hagemann, who will be joined by special guests each night for expert analysis. Commentary comes from Charlie Brougham.
BBC Radio 5 live Sports Extra brings full commentary of the series to listeners, marking the first time that the sport – the world’s biggest in terms of women’s participation – has been covered live on UK radio.
The live commentary forms part of BBC Radio 5 live and sports extra’s ongoing commitment to showcase more women’s sport and minority sports.
Katharine Merry will lead the coverage from Bath and London, with Jennie Gow presenting from Birmingham, with expert input from former England International Tracey Neville for all three matches.
Jonathan Wall, Acting Controller Radio 5 live and sports extra said: “Netball is such a popular team sport across the UK and we’re pleased to have the opportunity to bring live coverage of this ‘Ashes’ style series to our listeners.
“It will also be a big hit at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games which we are already planning for. It’s just part of our commitment to cover a wider range of sports, particularly women’s sport.”
BBC Radio 5 live and the BBC Sport website will also feature news and interviews in the run to the event.
Joanna Adams, Head of Commercial at England Netball said: “England Netball is delighted that the upcoming International Series against Australia will be aired live on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra.
“Over the previous couple of years Netball has witnessed phenomenal growth of participation figures in our country.
“The growing numbers taking up the game have led to an expanded fan-base which craves more and more media coverage of the sport.
“With over 15,000 fans expected to attend the matches, the popularity of the sport is unquestionable.
“It is with great excitement that we welcome 5 live sports extra to capture the electric atmosphere in the stands and the fierce action on the court.”
Sunday 20th January England v Australia – 1st Test Venue: University of Bath LIVE: 5.00pm-7.30pm – Sky Sports 4 Wednesday 23rd January England v Australia – 2nd Test Venue: Wembley Arena LIVE: 7.00pm-9.30pm – Sky Sports 3 Saturday 26th January England v Australia – 3rd Test Venue: National Indoor Arena, Birmingham LIVE: 5.00pm-7.30pm – Sky Sports 3 Radio commentary of all three tests on BBC 5 live Sports Extra …