The Diamond star, backed by two Australian netball greats to become the sole captain, led his troops to victory in his first match as a skipper.
Ex-Diamonds captain Liz Ellis and ex-Australian goalkeeper Catherine Cox are convinced that Liz Watson should have been named the solo Constellation Cup skipper.
The legendary duo roasted Diamonds coach Stacey Marinkovich following his call to use a managerial rotation policy, in which a new skipper would lead Australia in all four games.
After Australia fell against New Zealand in the first test under the captaincy of Caitlin Bassett, the Diamonds fought back tonight in a 45-36 win under Watson’s reign.
“It was really a lot of fun,” Watson said of the Diamonds captain during post-game coverage of Nine after leading Australia to victory at Christchurch Arena.
“The girls have been so supportive.
“It was an honor to do that and I’m glad we got the win.
“In the first game we were a little hesitant in the way we played, and looking at the footage from this morning it was clear where the errors were coming from.
“I think the girls did a good job talking about it this morning and putting it on the pitch today.”
Bassett was the only Diamonds captain since August 2017 and has long been an unwavering force in Australia’s top seven.
But Marinkovich took a “team leadership approach” to the four-test series against the Silver Ferns, in which she expects one of her players to stand out as a go-to leader.
Ellis criticized Marinkovich for the move during Nine’s post-game coverage of the first test.
“We thought an Australian captain was going to be appointed. It would make sense at the start of a new era with a new coach,” said Ellis.
“Are you staying with Caitlin Bassett? Are you changing captains? She felt like she wanted to change direction. I feel like it’s not the right thing to do. as a former Australian captain, I want a chief appointed.
“I felt like tonight there was no one to stand up and rally the troops, especially when Caitlin Bassett left. There are players who are trying to prove that they should be leaders and so on. is great.
“But that’s probably a reflection of how Stacey Marinkovich works. I think she sits down and takes her time – whenever she feels like she needs to make the right decision – regardless of what people like me or Catherine say. “
Cox said in the same post-match coverage that Watson was a “very obvious” candidate for the Australia captain.
“To me, it’s precious time that you’re wasting. I also think it’s very obvious, very obvious, who your next captain should be – and that’s Liz Watson,” Cox said.
“I think she’s the best leader on the pitch, she’s still on the pitch, one of the most consistent and successful on this side. Give her the role.”
Christchurch Arena will also host the third test on Saturday and the fourth Sunday.
The last two matches had been scheduled in Tauranga but were moved due to the COVID-19 epidemic in Auckland.