...Doing the groundwork ...New Scoring... a statistical
Global Gallery, Sept
Martin Bronstein, writes this month from his
home in London.
© 2004 All rights
Mansoor Zaman photo© 2004, Debra Tessier,
Congratulations to Pakistan on their continuing recovery from being nowhere
to once again being a force in the world of squash. They were seeded to
win the World Junior team Championships and they did with very little
trouble, retaining the title they won 18 months ago. It is heartening
to see this once great squash nation climbing back into international
prominence. The blame for a lack of a Pakistani player in the top twenty
can be squarely placed on the shoulders of the Pakistani governing body,
who after nearly forty years of domination starting with Hashim Khan and
going through such players as Qamar Zaman, Hiddy Jahan, Mohibulla Khan,
Gogi Alaudin to the true greatness of Jahangir Khan and ending with Jansher
Khan, thought they ruled the squash world by divine right and forgot to
put any junior delevelopment in place. The result was that once Jansher
had ended his turbulent reign, to give way to Peter Nicol, there simply
were no new players in the Pakistani pipeline.
and his former coach Rehmat both offered their services as did Jansher,
but the PSF were totally out of focus. I remember for the Junior World’s
in Princeton in ’98 suddenly coming across Jahangir who told me
he was the manager of the Pakistan team. When I asked him when he was
appointed he replied: “Three weeks ago.” So much for PSF planning.
They have been trying to rectify the situation and their recent triumphs
in the junior team championships means that they are getting results.
But as of the September PSA rankings, Pakistan’s top ranked player
is Mansoor Zaman at number 22 followed by Shahid Zaman at 39 and Farrukh
Zaman at 50. So it will be some years before the Pakistan seniors will
emulate their junior counterparts.
UNBEATABLE YANK? WHERE?
Although the US team did not set the world on fire in Pakistan, did you
notice that ONE American player went right through the tournament, not
only unbeaten, but giving his opponents a bit of a thrashing. The US Number
one Chris Gordon was unbeaten throughout the tournament, steamrollering
Jahii of Iran for the loss of five points, Nafiizwan of Malaysia, 3/0,
Simpson of England 3/1, Brechbul of Switzerland for the loss of just two
points and then finished off the tournament by beating Dick Lau of Hong
Kong for the loss of ten points. I don’t know for sure but I am
fairly certain that no other American has ever done that in a world championship.
another confirmation that hard work has paid off, Gordon having traveled
the world, entering minor tournaments, going through the pains of qualifying
and generally toughening up his match mentality. Let’s hope the
USSRA are keeping an eye on him and giving him as much aid as they can
to help him travel and compete. From this viewpoint he looks like a very
good investment indeed.
A TRUE WORD……
Last month when reviewing Playing the Game by Chris Lincoln, I compared
the US college approach to sports to that of leading Brit universities.
I wrote, facetiously, that whereas US universities have superb facilities
and a professional coaching staff, I doubted whether the Oxford University
team even had a coach. Well dang my hide if I didn’t bump into Ben
Garner at the English Open, (where he pushed John White to five games),
and asked him about his time at Oxford University. He played at number
one, natch, and when I asked him if that great seat of learning had a
squash coach he said no! There was no-one in charge! Mind you he said
that when Oxford toured the US, they won most of their matches…..
ELEVEN POINTS – GOOD OR BAD?
new scoring system is underway in Hong Kong. So what? Has it affected
the sort of squash played or made a major difference in the length of
matches? Now I would ask you to pardon me for a few paragraphs as I free
myself from my own verbal prison of thinking that statistics is the last
refuge of the terminally boring.
first round in Hong Kong this month there were 16 matches which encompassed
63 games and chalked up 638 minutes of play, which equates to 10.12 minutes
per game and 39.87 minutes per match.
round, where one would expect harder fought matches, there were eight
matches encompassing 32 games taking a total of 379 minutes: giving 11.84
minutes per game and 47.37 minutes per match.
quarters, the four matches (17 games) took a total of 211 minutes: 12.41
minutes per game, 52.7 minutes per match.
total for the tournament up to the semis is 28 matches, 112 games over
1,228 minutes. That averages to 43.85 minutes per match, 10.96 minutes
A YEAR AGO….
Now by themselves the above statistics are meaningless. To get some idea
of the effect that the new scoring system has had, we have to compare
it to another major tournament. How about the World Open in Pakistan last
second round in Pakistan the 16 matches encompassed 63 games and took
867 minutes, which is 13.76 minutes per game and 54.18 minutes per match.
That compares with the 39.87 in the round of 16 this year in Hong Kong.
third round the eight matches consisting of 31 games took 470 minutes,
15.16 minutes per game and 58.75 per match.
The quarters averaged out to 17.63 minutes per game, 64.66 minutes per
for last year’s World Open matches are: 14.48 minutes per game,
56.33 minutes per match.
the new scoring does shorten the matches, which was the PSA’s purpose
and the average match now comfortably sits inside the hour mark, which
tv producers will just love. In the 2003 World Open quarters the average
was over the hour mark at 64.66 minutes. In the 2004 Cathay Paficic in
Hong Kong the quarters averaged 52.7 minutes. QED.
One final statistic before I bore you completely to death: PSA changed
the scoring from 15 to 11, a reduction of 26.6 percent. The effect was
to reduce the match average from 56.33 minutes to 43.85, which equates
to a reduction of 22.26 percent. What does this prove? Simply that it
has been a slow summer and I have had too much time on my hands. Don’t
worry friends, I have just thrown the calculator out of the window.
Sorry folks I won’t be in Boston for the US Open (Ron Beck will
be standing in for me), but I was there last year when Nick Matthew made
his breakthrough win against Ong Beng Hee and then this year confirmed
his coming of age by beating Joe Kneipp in the English Open. Since then
he’s picked up scalps galore. And now he has reached the final of
the Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong. He was never going to beat Thierry Lincou,
a huge local favourite because of his Oriental ancestry, but reaching
the final of a major Super Series event that featured Nicol, Power, White
and Palmer, not to mention Beachill and Willstrop, is yet another sign
that Matthew is a serious contender.