Scottish Thistles captain Claire Maxwell is proud to have led the national side to two emphatic victories against Barbados, as Scotland returned to competitive international netball.
Thistles dominated the two-match Test series on their return to the Emirates Arena, beating the Bajan Gems 74-32 in the first match, and 74-35 in the second Test.
The Test series was north-east player Maxwell’s first matches back playing in official international games since becoming a mum earlier this year, with her young daughter part of the Thistle army who watched on at the Emirates last week.
The former Turriff Academy pupil said: “I absolutely loved it, it was my first official international game back as a mum so it was a proud moment to take to court and to lead the country in such an important international series.
“We really needed those results as well to confirm our Commonwealth selection for Team Scotland which will hopefully be confirmed now.
“It was an honour and a privilege, and something that I think I will look back on in years to come and think about how special a moment it was.”
In the Scots’ last two meetings with Barbados, it had been a much closer contest with Scotland only winning by an 11-goal margin at the 2019 World Cup, as well as their game against the Bajan Gems at the 2018 Commonwealth Games having went to extra time.
Maxwell said of the Thistles’ emphatic Test series scorelines: “It was absolutely brilliant to get that scoreline against Barbados. We’ve not had that a score like that in a long time, at least since I’ve been playing in the national squad, so it was a really good run out.
“We were confident that we could win, but maybe not to that extent. It showed the depth of the squad and just shows how exciting our future is.
“To get a 40-goal winning margin was unexpected, but we’re absolutely delighted. I think everyone who came and watched really had positive things to say about the squad.”
A starting point for future success
The Scottish Thistles’ future is certainly bright under head coach Tamsin Greenway, who only took charge in 2020, as she and her assistant Sara Francis-Bayman have already implemented a new style of play on court.
Greenway and Francis-Bayman were not the only new personnel to play a part in the Thistles’ wins against Barbados, as four players made their debut for the national side throughout the series.
Maxwell believes, under the guidance of Greenway, Scottish netball can only improve and the Test series win over Barbados proved this.
Netball pundits are already claiming Scotland’s performances against Barbados were a class above their current world ranking eight.
— Sky Sports Netball (@SkyNetball) December 3, 2021
The captain said: “We were delighted to get such a great result for both our coaches, Tamsin Greenway and Sara Francis-Bayman, in their first international competitive games.
“They’re well renowned players and had great success, but for us to go out and put in a performance that they too can be proud of it really shows where we’re at.
“It’s a good starting point, but we are not going to rest and we’re going to continue to try and improve on everything we can for a big year ahead.
“We wanted to put a stamp on where we’re at as a country, but also show this new style of game that we’re playing now.
“Playing under new coaches, they always bring something different and Tamsin is a really special coach and she’s going to bring a different style to our game. which is only going to help us get better.
“It’s a really exciting time for where we are building to. It was the most prepared we’ve ever been good international match so that’s credit to our coaches and I really look forward to continue to work with them.”
Commonwealth Games place all but confirmed
For teams to be selected for the Commonwealth Games, countries must be ranked within the top 12 of World Netball rankings.
The Scottish Thistles’ Test series win cemented their top-10 world ranking, which should be more than enough to confirm their selection for the Birmingham games.
Maxwell explained: “The squad selection to get to the Commonwealth Games is actually really, really tight and competitive, but that’s what you want within an elite sport.
“We want to play for our country but no-one is ever handed that Thistles dress, you’ve got to earn it and we’re in a really strong position for that.”