UNSEEDING THE SEEDS
Twenty four teams line up for the world champs in Melbourne, to be played
under the revised system, whereby any team in any pool can win the championships,
rather than in the old system where there were virtually two divisions.
This is the line-up:
POOL A  Australia, Ireland, Hong Kong, Norway.
POOL B  Wales, South Africa, Germany, Mexico.
POOL C  England, Pakistan, Sweden, Kenya.
POOL D  Canada, Finland, Denmark, Japan.
POOL E  Scotland, Malaysia, Netherlands, Austria.
POOL F  Egypt, France, New Zealand, USA.
As you can see, Australia
is seeded one, and I have no argument with that. David Palmer, Paul Price,
Stewart Boswell and John Williams will be virtually unbeatable with tremendous
strength in depth. And with Anthony Ricketts waiting in the wings shows
you just how strong the new Australian crew are.
Wales is seeded number
two which is to me incomprehensible. Despite his top five ranking David
Evans, the Welsh number one has showed no consistency since his British
Open victory last year. Alex Gough can be tough at times but Wales simply
does not have a number three of strength.
Canada is ranked fourth,
but with Power, Ryding and Shahier Razik at three, I will put my money
on them to beat Wales any day.
England are ranked
three which is safe bet. Mark Chaloner, Chris Walker and Paul Johnson
are tremendously experienced in the team game and Lee Beachill is probably
the best number four in the entire tournament. My real beef is the lowly
seeding of Scotland at five: with John White and Martin Heath at one and
two they have the strength to make the semi-finals, even without a strong
So, here’s my final
four: 1. Australia, 2. Canada, 3. Scotland, 4. England. The next three
places should feature Egypt, France and Finland.
THE BARADA STORY
We may not have heard the last of Ahmed Barada, according to Squashtalk’s
Egyptian correspondent Golestan Radwan. A recent interview in an Egyptian
magazine gives hints at a possible comeback.
Radwan told Squashtalk:
“Astonishingly enough, it seemed that he implied his retirement decision
was not final. In this interview, he mentioned his back injury and that
his French doctor had instructed him to stop playing for at least six
months in order to recover fully, or else he will not treat him again!
This came, according to Barada, after a series of attempts from his side
to cut his recovery period short in order to participate in tournaments.
He said he had announced
his retirement in order for people not to keep expecting a lot of him
and to ease the pressure of having to come back quickly, and just in case
he could not be able to make it back. He talked about his short-term plans
of continuing his studies and recovering from his injuries, saying he
had six months to a year to himself now and that he was trying to adjust
himself to the fact that his dream of becoming the world’s number one
might never come true.”
He’s also got engaged
again, but to a different womanÂ
.. I for one hope that a year out of the
spotlight and away from the pressure will allow him to get hungry for
some court action again and for his back to mend properly. He was a valuable
addition to the world scene. If he were at number one for Egypt in Melbourne
for the team champs, they would be a cert for second place.
They held a major coaching conference in Melbourne as part of the Festival
but Joe Shaw wasn’t part of it. Joe Shaw is the man who helped guide David
Palmer to the number world number one spot. He’s also been a major influence
in the squash development of John White, who now plays for Scotland and
is ranked seven in the world. Shaw’s the sort of man you would want at
a coaching conference, disseminating his methods and wisdom.
But the Australian
Institute of Sport (AIS) and Squash Australia got him banned because Joe
has been questioning the AIS lack of results despite the millions of Australian
dollars being poured into the AIS. David Palmer went to the AIS six years
ago on the understanding he could keep Joe Shaw as coach. And then the
AIS told Palmer to get rid of Shaw, that he would never amount to a hill
of beans with Joe Shaw as his mentor.
Palmer took off to
Europe and settled in Antwerp to be coached by Shawn Moxham, who is in
constant touch with Joe Shaw. Now that Palmer is world number one, there
should be some red faces at the AIS. In the intervening years there has
been some nasty legal stuff between the AIS and Shaw.
So when the organisers
of the Coaching conference invited Shaw to participate, the AIS and Squash
Australia acted with all their might: Ross Barry of Squash Australia rang
organiser Adrian McCormack and informed him that if Joe Shaw was allowed
to be a Guest Speaker at the Coaching Conference then all sponsorship
monies would be removed .
“The reason was because
of the my constant criticism of the AIS and the ASC. They were scared
that when I spoke I would compare the results of David Palmer on my program
to those of the AIS under Hunt,” Shaw said.
The organisers had
no choice but to drop Joe, the man who guides the world’s top player.
The question is, how many players has the AIS coached to number one position?
Actually, none. Not one. In fact at the last World Junior Men’s championships
in Milan, not one member of the Australian team had come out of the institute.
AN ISSUE OF MAJOR
The AIS has a bigger problem on their hands, much bigger: a $20 million
law suit from the Major twins, Kate and Emma. The twins are suing the
AIS for “breach of duty of care”. They claim they developed eating disorders
while on an AIS program. They claimed they suffered discrimination and
harassment at the AIS and as a result developed eating problems. Emma’s
weight dropped to 43 kg while Kate’s dropped to 50 kg. Both had weighed
57 kg when they started the AIS program in 1995. Their complaints followed
similar complaints against the AIS by more than two dozen leading tennis
At the time Geoff
Hunt, AIS head squash coach said “We’ve always had their interest at heart.
We’ve always tried to do our best for the athletes.” That was four years
Last month the AIS
lawyers tried to get the Major’s case dismissed on the grounds that the
writ had not been served within the time stipulated. But in Australia’s
Supreme Court Justice Debbie Mullins refused the setting aside application
and said the writ served on the various parties – coaches and doctors
– was effectual. The judge said that the prejudice suffered by the delays
in the service of the writ was outweighed by factors in favour of renewing
it. That was bad news for the AIS as they will have to fund another team
of lawyers, probably the same team that they used to stop Joe Shaw in
his action against them. Guess who will be a prime witness for the Major
twins? That’s right. Joe Shaw.
WILL BE RESUMED FROM TORONTO
Sorry about my absence from Melbourne. This was because the organisers
could not supply hotel accommodation for journalists and a month of hotel
bills is simply beyond the budget of a squash writer.
You have probably read
about the money problems and the cancellation of the Men’s championship
because the Eye Group could not come up with the $105,000 prize money.
The real question is how come Melbourne 2001, four years in the planning,
failed to get sufficient sponsorship in place before this year? They would
not have had to depend on the Eye Group for last minute support, which
failed to materialise anyway.
One sponsor they won’t
mention is a certain Martin Bronstein, who entered the Masters, paid his
seventy five Australian dollars and then pulled out. As my entry fee has
not been returned, I can only assume it was used – along with the fees
from the other 1,500 Masters competitors – to run the festival. Glad to
do my bit mate. Don’t bother to thank me. But I shall be back reporting
live from Toronto for the YMG Classic starting on November 18. See you