is for all you readers who have not bothered to read the Rules of Squash.
It always amazes me when a player addresses the referee – having been punished with a conduct stroke – with a touch of righteousness and states: “Don’t you have to give me a warning first?” The answer is: No.
It is that simple. All this was brought about in a match in New York during the Tournament of Champions when a player – who shall remain nameless - threw his racket with some vehemence. The referee felt that it was done with such violence that it deserved a conduct stroke. The player asked his question, but worse still one spectator - looked like a lawyer to me, said in an authoritative loud voice: ‘You have to give a warning first.’ I just hope he knows American law better than he knows the squash laws.
THREE REF SYSTEM A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
1) Ensure that the players know exactly how the system works, that all three officials give a decision on each appeal. (This is done by hand signals: a flat hand means ‘No let’, forefinger and thumb extended means ‘Let’ and a clenched fist means ‘Stroke’).
2) In New York the officials were all in a line 15ft or so behind the back wall. I still feel that the old American system of having the linesman one each wall, just behind the glass wall would be an improvement on giving three different views of the action. I wonder if I can persuade Peter Nicol and his fellow directors of Eventis to try a three/four man system at the Canary Wharf Classic.
MORE OFFICIALS PLEASE
Now Michel Platini, that former great French soccer player, has taken over at FIFA and the first thing he wants to do is bring in two additional officials. Soon rugby and other team sports will recognize what American football has know all along: you need a lot of eyes to watch the action in various parts of the field. Which is my way of saying that a team of four officials for squash is not asking too much. Indeed, more and more referees are telling me that they agree with the points I made in my Referee in Crisis piece.
One referee said that the ‘jury’ system takes the pressure off the referees and will prevent them making a really bad decision –which can haunt them and leave them open to all kinds of abuse.
You know, I get the feeling that there are a lot of squash referees who would like to see changes but don’t want to upset the conservative element that seems to rule. Speak up, people, speak up.
AND GOOD VIBRATIONS
Peter Nicol has no intention of being one of those sad ex-players who hang around the game long after their pro career has finished with no visible means of support. Apart from his Eventis company which promotes tournaments and stages the World Squash Awards each year, he has now moved into selling vibrators. Steady on, gents, not those vibrators. What he promotes, through a company called The Lifestyle Institute, is something called a Power Plate, which is essentially a vibrating platform. You stand on it and do various exercises and it is supposed to do wondrous things for you body and well-being.
In the brochure Peter says: “In twelve weeks I took the condition of my body from good to excellent….it helped me achieve the best shape of my career.”
In fact Peter and Lars Harms, the former Swedish champion, have put their money where there mouth is and with three other partners are opening Lifestyle Institutes in London and New York. Which is why he set up his stall in the Vanderbilt Hall of Grand Central Terminal in New York with his salesman hat on and was happy to talk and demonstrate the Power Plate to anybody who was interested. And who wouldn’t take the chance to talk to the great Peter Nicol?
“We created the company last summer because I had been using the Power Plate since last January which allowed me to go to the Commonwealth Games and win there. Lars Harms had trained me on it and so we are not selling the machines. It is such a specific machine there is a huge difference between training on your own or being trained by someone who knows what they are doing,” Peter told me.
There are now three locations in London and when Peter spoke to me in New York, he was on the verge of announcing two locations in that city (with American partners). You don’t join these places, you sign on for ten sessions for about $40 per session ( in England it’s £20 per session).
COURT WILL TRAVEL
19 tons and roams around North America to settle in the classiest
Dave Carr, the McWil court man in North America tells me that the court has had 18 usages in three years and that they constantly improve it as the players and photographers give them feedback. The latest improvement is the lighting which has finally got the photographers happy. (Although there is a bit of friction between the still photographers and the television people. But then, with TV people around there will always be friction).
“We still regard it as a promotional vehicle,” Dave told me. “It costs around $20,000 to rent so we don’t lose money and we don’t make money. In fact we are about to spend a big chunk of money on buying our own truck, so we will be completely self reliant.”
His crew is getting pretty good at erecting the court and can put it up in 32 hours. Usually they do it over two days but in Chicago they worked 32 hours non-stop.
So how does McWill make money? They erect permanent courts all over North and South America as well as Europe. They have a foot in the new market – China, which if it takes off, could be huge. Remember how good the Chinese became at badminton and table tennis. They could do the same thing in squash.
SQUASH WITH THE DINOSAURS
….AND NOW NIGERIA
“The Nigerian Army yesterday announced through the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 81 Division, Major General Onyeabo Azubike Iherjirika who represented the Chief of Army Staff Lt. General Owoeye Andrew Azazi that it is reviving the Chief of Army Staff Squash Championship which was rested about eight years ago.”
Dontcha just love the titles and the protocol? Anyway, at a press conference, sorry, briefing, Major General said: “The game of squash is vital for the general fitness of every individual and soldiers in particular.” Way to go Major General!
Segun tells us that the court is owned by Maku Sports group but will be available to companies/promoters for rent around Africa (except Egypt and South Africa through) a division of Maku Sports group called Maku Courts Service LTD.
The court will be used for the African Open in August and the two Nigerian players to watch out for are Gbenga Adeyi (former under 19 National Champion) and Wasiu Sani a veteran of many Nigerian national teams.
However, the organizers are thinking of giving a new car to the winner, in which case you can be certain that Segun Maku himself will be competing.
THE CURSE OF THE PHAROAHS OR WHAT?
Now I don’t want to start spreading nasty rumours or get into the world of the paranormal, but, well, I’ve been thinking. Y’see in January 2006 in the final of the Canadian Classic Jonathon Power was struck down by a bad back and had to forfeit the match and the winning cheque. Jump forward 14 months and in New York in the final of the Tournament of Champions, Anthony Ricketts was felled by a really bad case of tennis elbow and other arm ailments, thereby having to be content with the runner’s up cheque. Bad luck all round you say. Strange then, that the man who benefited from both of these retirements was Amr Shabana, the world number one. Does he pay midnight visits to the Pyramids from his home in Cairo? Before each tournament does he summon up the Pharoahs and plead for their special curse to be visited on his final opponents? Does he light oil lamps in memory of Tutankamen? Is Amr a Mummy’s boy?
Damned if I’m going to ask him.
GEORGE BUSH POWERFUL? NAAAH, TRY THE FIRE MARSHALL
This year was the tenth anniversary of squash at Grand Central Terminal. John Nimick asked me if I had been there the first year. I wondered that if I had, would I get a gold watch and be made to retire. No, he wanted all the lifers up on the court after the final. So Steve Line and I, representing the media, were called up on court together with the VIPS. What I did enjoyed was standing next to that marvelous artist Frank Stella, who created some superb sculptures as 10th anniversary trophies.
Stella is one of America’s great artists and a huge squash fan. His posters from the 90’s are now collector’s items. He told me later that he doesn’t play now because hips and knees are giving him problems. I do hope he continues with his interest in squash and his support of the Tournament of Champions.