NOTES FROM THE PAST
One good thing came out of the Royal death we had to endure in Britain.
The Times reprinted pages from various decades of the last 100 years and
there on the back was the sports page. Right at the top of the page alongside
Horseracing and motor racing was a squash report. It’s the sort of thing
The Times no longer does, relegating squash to a paragraph at the bottom
on some inside page. Having just seen Hashim Khan play in the first round
of the British Open over 65’s event, I thought it would be of interest
to reproduce the article here. From the Times of London March 26 1956:
SQUASH RACKETS EVENT
HASHIM KHAN SEEKS SIXTH OPEN TITLE.
From Our Squash Rackets Correspondent
Many of those who watched the open
champion, Hashim Khan, beating his younger brother Azam Khan by 10-9,
10-9, 4-9, 9-3 on Saturday at the Lansdowne Club may well think that as
a display of squash rackets it can seldom, if ever, have been surpassed.
Yet the final to-day at 6 p.m. when Hashim will try to retain his title
against Roshan Khan, who beat R. B. Hawkey by 9-1, 9-2, 9-0 in the other
semi-final, is sure to be a memorable occasion in more ways than one.
|Hashim & Roshan
© 2002 SquashTalk archive photo
For one thing there is the likelihood
that the degree of skill in Hashim’s semi-final will be at least equalled,
and then there is the extra spice that arises from the champion’s effort
to assert himself once again, at the age of 40, against the only man to
whom he has ever lost at the English game. This happened in the Dunlop
tournament in February when, after Hashim by superb exertion had won the
first two close games, he began to feel a leg strain, and Roshan went
on to victory.
On Saturday it was clear that Hashim no longer feels this injury, for
had it been otherwise – and, having dictated a similar course in the match
he could not have brought out his hidden reserve of power, as he did,
and win the match with a second brilliant spell in the fourth game. No
one has played this game quite so fast as Hashim, and now even such a
master of it is human in the sense that he can no longer maintain a tireless
attack at high speed against the two best of his younger rivals.
It therefore follows that, being
a master of tactics, he relies on timely effort to produce a series of
winning strokes and astonishing changes of their direction. It is upon
this art of the unexpected that he will rely for much to-day. For Roshan,
almost as quick a mover, is a master of the drop shot. Moreover, as he
showed against Hawkey, who played so well with a bare two points to show
for it, it is possible to kill the ball from mid-court without possibility
of return. This is done by hitting at great speed at the top of the bound
and downwards to make a nick the foot of either side wall. It might called
a smash, and it is stroke that he has learnt from Hashim, who can do it
more often. If the match is as close as many expect it will be, and if
personality counts, then Hashim may win the title for the sixth year in
succession of the greatest occasion.
It reminds me that once upon a time, the word
‘today’ was hyphenated.
SORRY JOHN, THE CHEQUE AIN’T IN THE MAIL
There was much gnashing of teeth by Scots
Peter Nicol and Martin Heath two years back when John White turned to
his forebears and claimed Scottish roots and a whole pile of money ($30,000)
from the Scottish Sports Council. Now he is number four in the world,
so the story is being told, the grant has dried up. He was told he would
get further grants only if he ‘made a loss’. So he is now in precisely
the situation that Nicol and Heath were. I wonder if he is now looking
for an Irish great-grandfather somewhere in his family tree?
John White certainly started a trend: Scot Peter Nicol became English
as did South African Natalie Pohrer (nÃ©e Grainger), Stuart Cowie and Neil
Frankland, born Englishmen, claimed Scottish roots as did Senga Mcfie.
The Irish Champion Liam Kenny was Australian up to November 2000 and of
course, the most controversial of all, Aussie Carol Owens becoming a Kiwi.
As my father was born in the Ukraine, where
squash is in its infancy, I fancy that with a quick phone call and 30
years of questionable squash behind me, I could be captain and play number
one for the Ukraine at the next team championships. And finally get a
competitor’s goodie bag. I’m fairly sure the Ukrainians will not be coughing
up a $30,000 sports grant, so I will be doing it purely for the honour
of playing the likes of Nicol, Power, Beachill and Lincou. I’m pretty
certain by faking a heart attack, I could psyche one of them out. And
with a Ukrainian passport my count will be up to threeÂ
THE HAIKU COMPETITION
Well I must say I was a little disappointed in the size of the entry for
my Squash Haiku competition, but not in the quality. After much debate
among my international panel of literary experts (who look remarkably
like the International Panel that chooses the Player of the Month for
Squashplayer Magazine), the prize of David Pearson’s latest coaching book
goes to Avrin Slatkin for:
FAR AND WIDE:
my racquet bespeaks
soft touches and high lobs far
from anyone’s reach
(Wonderfully poetic Mr Slatkin. Please email
me your home address, and you will receive the valued prize.)
Here are some of the honourable mentions.
Boast, drive, dig, lob, drop
the ball surrenders nothing.
Let! Lord, not again. –
Two fools once said twice
Hey damit that’s my point hey
Two fools twice said once! – Ken Anklovitch
When I lose squash games
I think I’m better off dead.
Oh wait, not me, you. –
The Walls are moving!
Bombs? Earthquake? Seismic troubles?
No. Playing Doubles. –
Why no let, I ask,
of course I can reach that ball!
Have I grown too old? –
HIP, HIP, HOORAY FOR HUNT
It was nice to see Geoff Hunt at the British Open, walking like a regular
person. He has had both hips done, by the same method that was pioneered
on Jonah Barrington. “I was gonna have both hips done at once, but there
was too much bleeding, so I had to wait three months for the second operation,”
Geoff told me. Would we see him playing in the British Open Age Groups
next year? “No, I don’t think so. I’ve started playing a bit, a but I
don’t think I’m going to play at that level.” Pity; it would be splendid
to see Hunt in the British Open again.
ALL CHANGE FOR POWER
Jonathon Power was not picked to lead the Rest of The World against France
in a recent series of ‘official’ test matches. Before I tell you why,
let me point out that these ‘official’ test matches are slightly misleading,
because while they wear the tag ‘official’ the whole shooting match is
a promotion for Dunlop racquets and if you look closely, all the players
who participate in them use Dunlop rackets.
Now you know and I know that Power uses a Dunlop
racket but there has been a slight sea-change: Power is now contracted
by Dunlop in North America rather thanby Dunlop Europe who organise the
matches. When I asked him why he replied: “It makes it easier. It means
I don’t have to deal with certain people in Europe and that it’s easier
to get my cheques.”
If that wasn’t enough, he appeared in Manchester
at the British Open wearing a pair of Adidas shoes, not his normal Hi-Tec
footwear. It seems his Hi-Tec contract has run out and when asked about
his new boots said he had actually bought them. The totally unconfirmed
rumor is that Power is about to introduce his own shoe to the squash market.
WHAT HAPPENED TO CAROL?
|Carol Owens "felt
flat" at the Open © 2002 D Tessier
Carol Owens’ exit from the British Open was
a shocker of the first order. Her performance can only be described as
abysmal and having talked to her about her defeat by Tania Bailey in the
quarters, she seems as perplexed about her non-effort as everybody else.
“I’ve played every weekend since the beginning
of the year, all the local tournaments in New Zealand. I like having lots
of matches. I really can’t say that I was stale, that that was the reason
I went out and played so appallingly and so badly against Tania. I’ve
never before felt so flat, so not up for a match.
Normally I’m so competitive and just by getting
out there and the atmosphere, I can bring myself up. But this time it
was like, well, I couldn’t care less. On the match ball I didn’t even
run it was like I was saying ‘Here, you can have his match because I just
don’t to be here today.’ And I have never, ever felt like that before.
Nothing could have got me enthused.” She admitted that she had nobody
sitting in her corner and had there been someone to shout at her, she
might have got going.
“It was a bit of a communications problem.
Robbie Burnett asked me if I was alright and I said yes. I thought he
would come to me between games but he didn’t because he thought I didn’t
AUSSIES BACK DOWN
Maybe if someone had whispered ‘ Squash Australia’ in Carol’s ear, she
might have found some real venom. Up to two weeks ago, they were still
trying to stop her playing for New Zealand in the Commonwealth Games by
withholding their approval. I spoke to a referee from Australia in Manchester
to ask why and was told candidly:
“Well if Carol doesn’t play for New Zealand,
it’s one more medal for us.”
Neven Barbour, former New Zealand international
and ex-chairman of Squash New Zealand said:
“Up until last Thursday (April 11)they were
still trying to block her and we protested to the Australian Commonwealth
Games association, who are directed by the national body. We finally took
a strong stance on it. They have now withdrawn their objections and Carol
will play for New Zealand. Carol has been resident in New Zealand for
five years, she has a New Zealand passport and citizenship so she fulfilled
all the necessary requirements. I just think it was sour grapes on their
behalf; they felt they had contributed some money to Carol and that she
owed it to them that she should be playing for Australia. But Carol had
no intention of playing for Australia for the last two or three years.”
(In the next Global Gallery, Neven Barbour
talks about what squash should be doing to attract the younger players.)
PALMER FOR PREZ
I don’t know why they kept it such a secret, but at the last meeting of
the PSA board, Rodney Eyles stepped down as president and David Palmer
was elected in his place. No announcement, no fanfare. Maybe that sort
of responsibility will persuade Palmer to control his temper on court.
It wouldn’t do for the prez to be reported by the referee, would it?
Roy Ollier has just published his own memoirs
– in the trade it’s called vanity publishing. But anybody who published
a book like this has no vanity. I have to admire his writing style, unfettered
by traditional forms of punctuation, which means that although it is a
short book, 78 pages, because you have to read everything three times
to extract the meaning, it seems like a very long book.
He could be setting a style too, in strangely
selected eclectic pictures with Kafka-esque captions that fail to identify
many of the people in them. He gives tips on the game and practice routines,
all of which have appeared in every other squash book, but I welcomed
them like old friends.
The book does have some charm, but the author
in me cringes.
SQUASH Tips, Tales & Travels by Roy
Ollier is available from