The Hockeyroos have a big year ahead of them with the Women's Hockey World Cup later in the year once they have qualified in Chile next month. They have been put in this terrible situation as they lost the Australasia title to New Zealand last year which sends the Kiwi's straight to the World Cup.
Hockeyroos Coach Frank Murray is no lightweight when it comes to coaching. He coached the men's team, he was assistant to Ric Charlesworth with the women in their Olympic Gold medal victories a decade ago and as a Western Australian, he knows hockey inside out.
But the Hockeyroos now face a tough challenge to reach the World Cup through the qualifiers in Chile. The Hockeyroos are not accustomed to losing 'anything' much and now they find themselves in a situation where they are on the back foot.
Their penalty corner set play seemed to be back in play against Argentina in their final Test, but even here the odds are surprisingly high against scoring. The penalty corner set plays have been for years the generator of goals in field hockey, in spite of the Hockeyroos outstanding field goal record.
Should the field goal option be closed up by strong defensive tactics, then the one option that becomes available is the penalty corner. It take no small effort for the team to get the umpire's nod for this set play by forcing defensive errors. Once the award has been given, and any video appeals squashed, then the penalty corner plays becomes a vital part of the game's goal scoring function.
This writer, who has written five books on field hockey, says that with the advent of the new penalty corner rule where one break from the defensive lines means that defender must exit herself to the half way line, means that it has given the attaching team an advantage. Any advantage lies in the opportunity for the Hockeyroos to excel their penalty corner set plays.
The set play sounds good but it's fraught with difficulties as everyone knows what's up, whereas the open play field goal often comes from the most surprising situations. A good question is, what constitutes a set play?
Reading recently the life story of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the remarkable London preacher of third quarter of the last century, it was interesting to learn that he never made a 'set-play' appeal for souls as in the familiar alter call. Herein lies a continuing debate about such 'set plays' in the evangelical Christian world.