BATTLE OF THE JK’S
Internet, May 1999. Presented on SquashTalk by permission of the writers © copyright 1999
Jahangir versus Jansher over the years: who was better
[also: Martin Bronstein’s JK versus JK analysis]
Dear readers: The following exchange occurred over the past two weeks on the Talk Squash talk line.
It stirs the age-old question, how to compare players of any sport that weren’t in their prime at the same time?
And of course this particular discussion leaves out a few other luminaries such as Hashim Khan. But we present
this informal exchange here as food for thought. We thank Robert and Hunt for their permission
Hunt Richardson: Robert, who was greater, Jansher or Jahangir? What was their head-to-head record? Jansher beat
Jahangir in the ’93 World Open Final (their last big match–held in Karachi I believe), but Jahangir was attempting a
final comeback at that point and Jansher was at his unstoppable best.
Robert Graham: Hunt, on the subject of Jahangir and Jansher there was a fine summing up that was made. (I forget who first compared them this way). The
quote that I remember was: “Jansher is easy to play, Jahangir is impossible to play, and they are both impossible to beat!” This is pretty accurate.
You always felt like you were in the rally with Jansher, but he kept getting everything back, and never made a mistake.
Eventually, you would get more and more tired and begin to play looser shots. You would start struggling mightily to
get to his shots and finally you would reach an absolute standstill.
With Jahangir, on the other hand, he would totally outclass you in the rally. He seemed able to put the ball
far out of your reach at will. He was taking it unfairly early, or slotting an outright winner.
In my view, then, Jahangir would rank as my number one of all time for all round class and ability.
Hunt Richardson: :Robert, I have to agree with you. Your remarks about Jansher’s style apply especially to the
early part of his career (which is the period when he met up with Jahangir regularly).
However, later on, he changed his style from what we might call a “negative one,” that is attrition and
pure steady play, to an attacking game(as you well know).
In fact in my view that’s all he did from about 1993 on.
He beat Jahangir eight times in a row in their early meetings in 1987-88. Jansher attained the number one
ranking position from 1987 through 1997. But that ranking always left a question because Jahangir was able to
secure British Open victories from ’87 through ’91. Then Jansher’s change to an attacking game and Jahangir’s age
gave Jansher the clear edge. Still Jahangir won a few meetings. In the 93 World Open tape that I have,
Jansher beat Jahangir 3-1, and he employed an all-around game.
It is clear, though, that Jahangir gets the prize for viewing excitement and
passionate, fiery play. About the only time he ever begged-off of a chance to compete was when he was injured or
Jansher, on the other hand, was more apt to tank some matches (I never heard of Jahangir doing that) and even
not showing up for them on occasion (not Jahangir!), drawing fines and scorn in the process. Everyone has their favorite player, so I
suppose the only way to rate them on paper would be to compare their head-to head record.
(Martin Bronstein’s head to head)
an interesting footnote, I once asked Mark Talbott who was the greatest hardball player he ever dueled with.
His reply was Jahangir (“like a machine”, said he).
Jansher, it must be added, never picked up a hardball in serious competition as far as I know.
Hunt Richardson: It also occurs to me, having studied many tapes of the
two over and over, that Jahangir (“J-E-hangir”)never really improved–rather that he played at the top of his
game from age 17 on–while Jansher, although competing against players of slightly lower caliber overall,
improved as he aged. I often wonder how did Jansher did that if the others weren’t as good as the competition was in
Peter B. Deacon: Hunt and Robert — your views of Jahangir vs. Jansher makes
great reading……However, Jahangir and Geoff Hunt were in a class of their own! Jahangir won 10 British Opens,
Hunt won 8 and they did the hard way, playing all comers, no ‘wild card’ entries. Each enjoyed (and still do)
legendary status as the world’s finest players. The last major encounter when Hunt defeated Jahangir in the
final of the British Open 3 to 1 was the toughest and finest match ever played. Only one other player in history
had the natural ability and shot prowess in squash to defeat all-comers, the Grandmaster of Squash, Hashim Khan.
He won British Opens (7) and World Championships (18) in both soft ball and hardball. He still plays daily at the
Denver Athletic Club, Denver, Col, USA. I have played all four players in my time, and am yet to separate
Jahangir and Hunt for ability and on-court fitness.