Lisa Alexander keeping Diamonds' opposition guessing

Australia Head coach Lisa Alexander at the Netball World Cup. Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images

The Australian Diamonds have had close to the perfect start to their World Cup campaign, winning their first five games in emphatic fashion and stamping their case for a 12th title, with April Brandley's ear injury the only dent on their pool play run.

Trialing several different combinations throughout the opening rounds, head coach Lisa Alexander has left fans and opponents speculating on what her best starting seven side is. And that's how she likes it.

In the opening match of the tournament, Alexander ran out all 12 players with Sarah Klau making a successful debut starting at goal-keep and Caitlin Bassett and Steph Wood combining in the circle to get a seven goal lead within the opening minutes. By fulltime they'd scored a convincing 64-goal win.

The next day, a whole new starting seven was trotted out. Gretel Tippett linked with Bassett, Paige Hadley was moved to centre with Liz Watson at wing attack, while Courtney Bruce, Jo Weston and April Brandley became the defensive trio. The side looked scratchy and struggled to find good connections, but still came through with the 73-37 win.

The trend continued throughout the rest of their pool matches with a new starting seven lining up against Sri Lanka, Barbados and Malawi.

"We definitely know who we think is our best combination, we just don't want to have it out there all the time, we don't need to have it out there all the time, we're just keeping everyone guessing at the moment," Alexander told ESPN.

"It's partly that [keeping people guessing], but it's also the fact that it is tournament play and you've got a different opposition each time, so we will experiment to see what kind of match-up will work on particular oppositions, so that's part of what we're doing as well."

Scoring an average 85 goals per game while conceding just 27, the Diamonds have hardly been pushed on the way to their final pool clash against New Zealand. For Alexander it's a challenge she must overcome as she prepares her team for their toughest test so far when they take on the Silver Ferns ahead of potential clashes with England or South Africa.

"Obviously the opposition haven't quite pushed us the way we probably would've liked. It's just a matter of we need to be put under a little more pressure before we make decisions around whether we've got the right combinations on, and those sorts of things.

"That's the way it is in this tournament though, and you've got to be able to change what you're doing and I think we've been as disciplined as we possibly could be in each of our games to be changing things and reacting to what's put in front of us, which has been adapting to each opposition each game, so that's all I can ask the players to do."

After a clinical outing, dispatching Malawi 74-25 on Wednesday morning (AEST) -- keeping Malawi to their lowest World Cup score ever -- the Diamonds have a day off to switch their focus to their trans-Tasman opponents.

Although both have already secured semifinal berths, Alexander will be determined to keep their sheet clean as they head into the deciding matches over the weekend. Claiming 11 wins in their past 12 matches against New Zealand, the Diamonds clearly have the wood over their rivals, but their 11-goal humbling in Hamilton last October was a wake-up call for the young side.

"We've been watching them pretty closely the whole week, knowing obviously that both teams are going to be fairly evenly matched," Alexander said post match. "They seem to be more fluent together. They seem to be happier together as a group, which doesn't surprise me with Noels [Noeline Taurua] as coach."

Looking formidable themselves through pool play, the Silver Ferns are on track to be one of the Diamonds' top competitors for the crown. Despite a recent form slump, the Diamonds won't be underestimating their trans-Tasman foe, but remain confident they have the structures in place to get through unscathed.

"Tournament play is different, but the good thing is we do know our opposition well, we know what to expect in terms of strategy and tactics," Alexander told ESPN.

"We're confident about what we've got in place for them strategy wise and we just need to execute that on Thursday."

With Diamonds players leading the tournament in deflections, second for intercepts and pickups and first and second in goal assists, Australia have proven themselves the team to beat and have truly impressed throughout the opening matches. But according to Alexander, they can only get better.

Experimenting with different combinations and averaging 20 turnovers so far in pool play, the Diamonds have in some instances struggled to remain patient when taking on the lower ranked sides and have looked scratchy. But Alexander isn't worried, she still wants her side to push the boundaries and take risks.

"Perfection is really unattainable at the end of the day in netball. You've got an opponent, you've got things that are going to happen, if you're not really pushing it hard you won't get to improve on what you're doing.

"We've got this mindset around that we really want to push the envelope to get better and the only way you do that is actually by taking some risks at different times."