World ranking: 4th
Previous Commonwealth Games results: 1998 (5th), 2002 (Bronze), 2006 (4th), 2010 (4th), 2014 (Bronze).
Commonwealth Games win/loss record: 20 wins, 11 losses 1 draw.
Last year was one of Jamaica’s most turbulent in recent memory. And yet, somehow, they’re about to enter the 2018 Commonwealth Games in better than good form, leaving the rest of the competition with plenty of thinking and planning to do.
A drawn series against Barbados (and subsequent resignation of recently-appointed coach Jermaine Allison-McCracken), withdrawing from the Americas tournament citing the possible loss of World Rankings points (which was nothing but a misinterpretation of information), before claiming silver at the Fast5 World Series made up just part of a weird and wonderful 2017.
The turnaround in fortune since Allison-McCracken’s departure has been swift and surprising. The united from Jamaica now appear to be presenting is a far cry from the fractured senior playing group of twelve months ago.
There is a sigh of relief in the form of Romelda Aiken and Jhaniele Fowler both being available and selected. Aiken, in particular, given her absence from the Sunshine Girls since the 2015 World Cup.
Aiken and midcourt maestro Paula Thompson will line up for their third Games, with Fowler, Beckford Facey and the two Williams their second. Sasher-Gaye Henry also returns, but this time as co-coach with Marvette Anderson.
There are two aspects of the Jamaican game the often determines their capacity for success – mental toughness and physical conditioning.
The inability to remain calm under pressure has, at times, been detrimental to Jamaica’s aspirations, particularly at long international events. One disagreement with the whistle can turn a match on its head and unravel a week’s worth of good work. There have been instances where their emotional game has controlled the physical and resulted in missing out on a place on the medal dias.
In regards to their physical capacity to contest the rigors day-in, day-out, fatigue was evident halfway through the 2015 World Cup. Registering close victories over Uganda and Malawi, before fading away after quarter time against England in the playoff for third were warning signs we’re yet to see addressed.
Jamaica have never been better placed heading into a world tournament. A series win against England in late 2016, winning their last two matches against New Zealand (just last month) and a pool match against an untested Australian outfit give indication that this could be the year that sun shines in their favour.
Commonwealth Games team
Romelda Aiken GS/GA 76 caps
Shanice Beckford GA/GS 26 caps
Nicole Dixon WA/C 9 caps
Stacey-Ann Facey GD/WD/GK 24 caps
Jhaniele Fowler GS 49 caps
Rebekah Robinson GA 7 caps
Shamera Stirling GK/GD 19 caps
Paula Thompson C/WD 70 caps
Adean Thomas C/WA 11 caps
Jodi-Ann Ward WD/C 5 caps
Khadijah Williams WA/C 24 caps
Vangelee Williams WD/GD/GK 37 caps
Co-coaches: Sasher-Gaye Henry & Marvette Anderson
Last five international results:
Jamaica def New Zealand 59-53 (2018)
Jamaica def Malawi 66-55 (2018)
Jamaica def New Zealand 59-51 (2018)
Jamaica def Fiji 83-38 (2018)
Jamaica lost to Barbados 41-43 (2017)