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Ode to Barada, Hilly, Pakistan By Ron Beck
The British Open is shaping up to be an interesting battle in 2001, with Jonathon Power escaping already on day one from a first round scare with Stephen Meads, bringing back memories of the upsets of 2000.
But there's certainly a missing element of theatre in 2001 with some of the most engaging personalities of the circuit for the past few years absent.
Barada. The Charismatic Egyptian. The heart-throb of Cairo. Carrying the weight of expectation of a country. Where is he? Not in Birmingham. Ahmed Barada with his scintillating bursts of attacking power. His streaks of remarkable daring winners. Barada has been off tour for almost six months now. There are vague rumors of his reappearance in the fall. (See Martin Bronstein's recent piece)
Hilly. Anothony Hill, the unfathomable Aussie. Able to win incredible strings of points with apparently no effort. Able to collapse from a lead at will. As interested in arguing the finer points of the game with the ref as focusing on his opponent. Hill is not present in Birmingham. Maybe he has decided to focus on the North American Doubles tour. His creativity on court and antics are missed. With Hilly, you loved him or hated him, but you definitely knew he was there.
The sight of Hilly on court at the US Open, doing drills with the SquashBuster city squash junior program, showed a generous and fun side to Hilly that his detractors totally missed out on, it showed a completeness to Hill that only a few of his contemporaries could match.
The Nation of Pakistan. What's going on here? Jansher officially retire. Amjad nowhere to be seen. A group of lightly regarding qualifying entries from Pakistan all gone in the qualifying rounds. A Pakistani friend of mine remarked, "It's a symptom of a deep problem in the leadership of the country of Pakistan. It won't be fixed until the government of Pakistan is fixed. It's too big a problem."
Very sad - we miss the unmatchable charisma, creativity, and confidence of the towering Pakistani stars.
The only Khan's in the main draw are.... Latasha Khan from Seattle, daughter of Jusuf, who lost in the first round and Hashim Khan, the grand master, making a ceremonial appearance in the over 60 draw.
SquashTalk hopes to see Barada back to play another day .... we truly miss the creativity of Anthony Hill ... and we hope a new generation of Pakistani stars emerges soon to add back their important dimension to the game. Squash without Pakistan is like Soccer without Brasil...