|SquashTalk>Features>Global Gallery>February 2000 Gallery: John White, TOC, a contest…|
|Martin Bronstein’s Global Gallery
His Monthly Views on the World of Squash
|February 2000, Gallery # 2000-2|
HE’S GONNA BE ALL WHITE
One of the sad aspects of the Tournament of Champions was seeing John White being stretchered off the court after injuring himself in his match against Derek Ryan. Up to that point White had been playing superbly so it must have been doubly painful – the real pain and the mental pain of knowing the tournament had ended for him.
The good news is that the there’s no damage. He tells me that an American specialist said that he stretched or pinched a nerve in the back of the right leg. He is already back in the gym doing some light running and stretches. The doctor said it should heal itself in short order. John says that it has been feeling a little better each day.
"If all stays this way I will be on court next week to test the leg out," he says, adding "I don’t wish to feel the pain which I felt on court in New York again."
And frankly, John, I hope I never witness it again. See you in Antwerp.
The word must have got out pretty quickly that I had been contracted to do the interviews for the Tournament of Champions official videos produced by Jean de Lierre’s company.
The very thought of my face on television across the world produced some very drastic reaction: Jean’s camera was stolen from a locked room in the basement of Grand Central Terminal along with some other very expensive electronics. This put the filming back by a day but other cameras were hired and we got back on schedule. Let me just say that the robbery was unnecessary – I do not appear on the interview – my voice is heard off camera.
With the disappearance of Jansher from the circuit it appeared for a while that Pakistan would be demoted to the also rans, due to a non-existant junior coaching scheme in Pakistan. Now a new star is emerging, Amjad Khan, who is being coached, I was told by Hashim Khan, by none other than Jansher himself and his elder brother Mohibullah.
I am second to no-one when it comes to admiration for Hashim. The first tournament I ever covered as a journalist in 1979, for Toronto’s Globe & Mail newspaper, was the Magic Pan tournament (hardball) in Toronto, then home of Sharif, Aziz and Sam, three of Hashim’s sons. Indeed my first published squash photo was of Hashim who was guest of honor at that tournament.
Hashim was made Honorary Chairman of the TOC in New York, for which John Nimick gets full Brownie points. Hashim was around from the beginning and never once looked bored, watching all matches with interest. When Amjad came off between games Hashim was in his corner, giving him animated advice. Amjad was unlucky enough to meet Simon Parke in the firstround,but pushed him to five games, keeping him on court for 71 minutes. Amjad was number 12 in the rankings last October, has slipped five places, but he’s a player to watch.
STRANGE BEDFELLOWS INDEED
POLITICS, as the old saying goes, makes strange bedfellows. Same thing could be said about squash. When interviewing Jonathon Power after his match with Anthony Hill I asked him if Hill’s antics upset him. "Not at all," replied Power. "I think he’s a great player. I’ve learned more about squash from Hilly than anybody. We do a lot of training together and he’s a good friend."
I was still mulling over that friendship when I saw Peter Marshall in earnest conversation with Martin Heath during Heath’s match against Graham Ryding. When I questioned Heath about that pointing out that they both have completely different styles of play he said that he and Marshall had become good friends of late and train together whenever possible. Perhaps Marshall’s single-mindedness has rubbed off on the sometimes mentally-fragile Heath. Certainly Heath was very relaxed in New York and was delighted with the consistency of his play that put him into the final. Heath was not slow in saying that Marshall had been a good influence on his play.
ALLONS! CANADA, GO!
Speaking as a holder of a Canadian passport, I have to compliment John Nimick on his good taste in using Canadian talent and know-how in the TOC. Don Goodwin makes a damn good presenter/ announcer for the tournament as well as putting out the Nicks and Boasts daily newsletter. He doesn’t feel the need to take centre stage and his mellifluous announcements come mostly from behind his huge computer near the press box so nobody can see him.
Barry Faguy is a Montrealer and an international class referee who can explain his decisions articulately in both French and English if need be. He too, manages to do his most difficult job without bringing his ego into play. He makes authoritative decisions without sounding like a power-crazed dictator. And he’s funny too.
IF YOU WANNA KNOW ABOUT SQUASH, THIS IS THE PLACE
I spotted Ron Beck, founder of SquashTalk, in deep conversation with a young journalist in the press room at Grand Central. It turned out he was from the New York Times, the paper that has managed to totally ignore the Tournament of Champions on its sports pages. It seems that the young man had never reported on a squash match before and so he did some research. And where was the first place he turned to for authoritative, comprehensive information? Why SquashTalk of course. A brief, but well informed account of the finals appeared in the New York Times the following day: when you’re good, even the New York Times beats an electronic path to your doorway.
MARSHALL: MAN OF GRANITE? STEEL? CARBON GRAPHITE?
Peter Marshall has made a full recovery; he demonstrated that very clearly in New York with some body-breaking matches. Of all the British players I have seen, none come close to Marshall in mental strength. I wanted to tag him Homo Granitus, y’know, a bit of Latin to give my writing a touch of scholarship. But a learned friend tells me there is no such word as granitus. He suggested Man of Stone, Homo Lapideus.
How about Homo carborundum, he who wears others down? Or even Mr. Kryptonite?
Aah! I feel a competition coming on:
If you think you can come up with a good tag for Peter Marshall, e-mail it to me c/o of Squashtalk (Martinbronstein@squashtalk.com). The best/ wittiest/ cleverest entry will receive a World Squash Yearbook autographed by the editor Colin McQuillan. Closing date is March 1st and winner will be announced in March Global Gallery.