Contrasting strategies highlight the six nations competing in this weekend’s eighth edition of the FAST5 Netball World Series which has seen just three different winners since its inception in 2012.
Australia wrote a new chapter in the evolution of the shortened version of the game to claim their first FAST5 world title last year, the only World Netball sanctioned event they hadn’t previously won. Before that the title had been won only by New Zealand and England.
For the second successive year, Wolfbrook Arena, in Christchurch will host the vibrant two-day spectacle on November 11-12, the event having instant impact after returning to the international arena for the first time in three years in 2022.
For this year’s event, the world’s top six-ranked teams have mixed and matched their selections for the shortened version which includes just five players on court, three different scoring zones, power plays and unlimited rolling substitutions.
The FAST5 Ferns, Jamaica and Malawi have a sprinkling of World Cup players across their teams while Australia, England and South Africa have none. But they all have players well-versed in the subtleties of the high-tempo FAST5 environment where, on their day, any team is capable.
The FAST5 format was first introduced in 2012, the FAST5 Ferns quickly embracing its dynamic fast-paced nature to become the dominant force in the abbreviated version of netball while winning five of the previous titles (2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2018).
England won the title in 2017 and Australia in 2022. There were no FAST5 World Series events held in 2015 or between 2019-2021.
Prior to FAST5, FastNet (seven players per team) was played between 2009 – 2011 in England. New Zealand won back-to-back FastNet titles in 2009 and 2010 with England winning in 2011.
New Zealand have a 77 percent success rate at FAST5, finishing out the medals just once, when coming fourth in 2017. Australia and England follow with 58 and 47 percent success rates, respectively. Both have also finished at the bottom of the table, Australia in 2012, and England, in 2013.
Jamaica, with a 43 percent success rate, have finished second twice (2017 and 2018) while a sixth last year was their lowest-place finish.
Last year’s surprise package South Africa, who finished runners-up for their highest finish, have a 36 percent success rate while crowd entertainers Malawi have a 28 percent success rate. After missing last year’s event, Malawi makes a return in 2023, their highest finish being third in 2016.
The men joined FAST5 for the first time in 2022 and this year, the New Zealand, Australia and South Africa teams will contest the men’s series.