Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Michael Burgess: Fast5 concept great - but could be more

Laura Langman takes a pass in the match against Malawi. Photo / Getty Images
Laura Langman takes a pass in the match against Malawi. Photo / Getty Images

Fast5 netball is a promising concept - but there is much more room for the rules to be even more radical.

On the evidence thus far, the tournament is a huge improvement on the old Fastnet concept.

The Fastnet rules, which retained seven players on the court, often saw teams able to win by playing traditional netball which defeated the whole purpose.

There was a powerplay quarter (where points doubled), but with teams able to take their powerplays at the same time, it often became a Clayton's concept.

Fast5 is a step in the right direction, especially with the three-point shots, which are spectacular and the highlight for players and spectators.

But if you allow three point shots, which can be taken from anywhere on the court outside the second circle line, why not allow the centre to take a shot?

Taking it further, why can't defenders come forward and shoot as well?

It would be like the Hail Mary play in the NFL, when the quarterback flings a huge pass into a packed end zone, or the common scene in the dying seconds of football matches when the entire team, including the goalkeeper, charge forward in an attempt to score a last ditch equaliser or winner.

It would also allow more tactical variation and gambling by coaches. At the moment, it still looks a lot like 'normal netball', which is surely not the point of the exercise.

On another matter, what are the odds that come the 2019 world championships, there will be two and/or three-point shooting in the traditional form of the game? Surely it is the only way for the sport to genuinely grow.

The long-range shots give the minnows a chance to take on the big guns and mean that the likes of England, South Africa and Malawi may be able to close the gap.

Despite all the efforts to make the sport more of a global game in the past decade, the reality is that England, South Africa and Jamaica are really no closer to upsetting the duopoly of Australia and New Zealand.

They will always struggle to match the all-court efficiency of the transtasman teams but some super-shooters could give them a fighting chance.

It is visually spectacular and would help to gain television viewers. The sport consistently rates high in New Zealand but struggles in Australia and barely rates a mention in England.

- Herald on Sunday

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Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday. He was named the 2013 New Zealand football writer of the year and was a finalist in the Sports Reporter of the year at the 2014 Canon Media Awards.

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