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Netball - 19. January 2013.

Diamonds aim to get Ashes off to winning start

The Diamonds are hoping to get Australia's year of Ashes campaigns off to a victorious start when the three-Test series against England commences on Sunday in Bath.

With the Australian Cricket Team to contest a much-anticipated Ashes series against England in July, the Diamonds are hoping to lay the foundations for a successful campaign on enemy territory.

"It always close matches against England and Australia, particularly in the cricket as well, so we're hoping that we can get that campaign off on the right foot," Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander said.

"Certainly our High Commission over here is very supportive of us and they wants to see us winning and starting off the year really well and then hopefully our cricketing cousins can do the same thing later in the year."

Though, summer's return appears far off with central, western and southern England experiencing heavy snowfalls on Friday, which included around 15 centimetres of snow in Bath.

While the winter conditions brought plenty of excitement amongst the Diamonds players, the adverse weather delayed Australia's practice match against Northern Ireland with neither side able to make it up the hill to the University of Bath with temporary road closures.

"The girls have been very excited about the snow but it did hamper us a little bit this morning for our practice match against Northern Ireland," Alexander said.

"We had to go up in a fleet of taxis up the hill, it was pretty hard to get our bus up to the university.

"(Northern Ireland) put a lot of effort in to come here to play us so we were really keen to play the match, it was a terrific hit out for us and the Northern Ireland team really enjoyed it as well."

After arriving on Tuesday and with just one court session under the belt, the hit out against Northern Ireland provided Alexander her first glimpse of her Australian side since winning the Holden Netball Quad-Series in October.

"I am quite pleased, particularly coming off such a quick base of skill work (since we arrived) and most of the players have only had a few hit out sessions with their ANZ Championship clubs because we're in pre-season," Alexander said.

"The effort was there, the teamwork was there and the defensive work; just a bit of fine tuning of our attack play and making sure we do all the little things that really matter, especially when you come up against a great opponent like England."

The Diamonds will be back on court on Saturday as they make their final preparations for the first-Test against England on Sunday 5.30pm (Monday 4.30am AEDST) at the University of Bath. The 2013 England Tour can be seen live on FOX SPORTS 2 and online via Telstra BigPond Sport.
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