THERE are a host of international players across the world that, much like a fine wine, have simply gotten better with age. With netball on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Draft Central takes a look at players that fall into the category of over 30 and still have plenty in the tank given their on-court prowess. Coming in at number two on the countdown is arguably the world’s best defender, Karla Pretorius.
The Spar Proteas goal defence is simply in a league of her own. There is no stopping Pretorius when on song, getting her hands in everything that comes her way. She is deceptively quick and while she is not the tallest defender standing at 181cm she has an uncanny ability to get up for the high balls and swat them away. Her on-court influence is second to none, able to spark something for her side and single handedly change the course of a game. The South African defender provides that element of excitement every time she steps out on court and often leaves people in awe, pulling off the unthinkable time and time again.
Her timing is extremely impressive, able to sense the moment, leave her player and take a breathtaking intercept while her ability to stay away from the whistle makes her a damaging prospect. Her cleanliness to get around the body of her opponent and use her inside arm is something to behold, applying a wealth of pressure on the entire attacking unit given her defensive prowess.
Just scraping into the age bracket at age 30, Pretorius still has plenty of gas left in the tank and has shown absolutely no signs of slowing down. Her ability to perform at an international level and domestic level is undeniable, constantly bringing her a-game and causing headaches for attackers. She was a key reason why the Sunshine Coast Lightning won back-to-back premierships in the Suncorp Super Netball with lean over the shot and skill to clog up space in the defensive third and suffocate the attacking options. Her adaptability to play with a changing defensive unit is impressive, unfazed by what is going on around her and simply digging deep and getting the job done. While the connection she has with Lightning and South African teammate Phumza Maweni, in the defensive goal circle is also integral to her game play, allowing her to go off hunting and create turnover ball.
Her quick change of direction, and drive down court is another key element of her game play, often providing that support along the transverse line to the frontend. Pretorius is not one to have a bad game, able to work her way into a match and wear her player down to help nullify their influence whether it be under the post or setting up attacking forays. She is a real barometer for any team and a true leader for the defensive end with her ability to read the play and shut down options.
TOP 20 PLAYERS OVER 30:
#20 Stacey Francis (West Coast Fever/England)
#19 Laura Scherian (Sunshine Coast Lightning/Australia)
#18 Ama Agbeze (Severn Stars/England)
#17 Phumza Maweni (Sunshine Coast Lightning/South Africa)
#16 Jade Clarke (Wasps Netball/England)
#15 Chelsea Pitman (Adelaide Thunderbirds/England)
#14 Romelda Aiken (Queensland Firebirds/Jamaica)
#13 Madi Browne (Collingwood Magpies/Australia)
#12 Nat Medhurst (Collingwood Magpies/Australia)
#11 Mwai Kumwenda (Melbourne Vixens/Malawi)
#10 Caitlin Thwaites (Melbourne Vixens/Australia)
#9 Jo Harten (GIANTS Netball/England)
#8 Jane Watson (Mainland Tactix/New Zealand)
#7 Caitlin Bassett (GIANTS Netball/Australia)
#6 Jhaniele Fowler (West Coast Fever/Jamaica)
#5 Geva Mentor (Collingwood Magpies/England)
#4 Katrina Rore (Central Pulse/New Zealand)
#3 Serena Guthrie (Team Bath/England)
#2 Karla Pretorius (Sunshine Coast Lightning/South Africa)