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The
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December
8,
2005: by Team Kneipp (kah-nipe)         
Matthews

Beachill (l) and Matthew are teammates
on an unstoppable British team in Pakistan .  Photo © 2005
Debra Tessier

The 20th
Mens Teams

The
20th Men’s World Team Championships is about
to begin. The tournament has had a considerable increase in standard,
importance and participation since Australia beat five other nations
in a round robin in Melbourne in
1967 (see www.squashtalk.com/kneipp/
augsept03/report03-31.htm
).

Australia not only won that first trophy and the most number of titles
since, but is also the current champion. But a lot has happened since
30 teams took part in the 19th World Team Championships in Vienna.

Firstly
Australia goes into the event seeded fourth (behind England, Egypt
and France). Considering they have won the title 8 times and their
worst result to date is fifth, being seeding fourth is a good indicator
of the strength of the competition and how difficult Australia’s
task of retaining the title will be.

We
were always curious as to how the seeding of a tournament like this
was done. Unlike a PSA event you can’t simply go off world rankings
when over twenty percent of the participants don’t have a world
ranking. We don’t know if this is how it’s normally done,
but for this tournament there was a group of people from different specialised
areas of the squash community (specifically Sameh Hussein, Graham Ryding,
David Pearson, John Milton, Major Maniam, Joe Kneipp, Geoff Hunt and
Andrew Shelley) who were all given a list of each team’s players
and respective rankings where applicable and asked to put their opinion
of what the seeding should be. The results were collated and averaged
to reach the final seedings.

This
year’s event is being held in Islamabad in Pakistan. Considering
that after Australia, Pakistan has been the most successful country at
this event, it’s surprising that it’s only the second time
that they’ve hosted the event (Australia and England have both
hosted it three times). Your average tourist doesn’t view Pakistan
as the most ideal destination (armed guards for the tournaments doesn’t
help, and one thing we don’t understand is that it is REALLY difficult
to get a visa to travel there). For the lower ranked and semi-professional
players (or their squash associations) this tournament is obviously important,
but like your average tourist, how enjoyable they perceive the host country
to be can be a deciding factor as to whether they’ll go. Having
the venue in Pakistan is the reason that there is only 22 teams. That’s
32 players from 8 countries who played in Vienna but aren’t in
Islamabad.

This
is the anecdotal evidence we hear from players and associations, but
obviously there’s other factors involved like travel costs,
although that doesn’t explain abnormalities like there being considerably
more teams in
’97 in Malaysia than ’01 in Melbourne, despite similar travel
costs, or more in ’93 in Karachi than ’91 in Helsinki. The
reason there were more teams in Karachi in ’93 than in Islamabad ’05
can be attributed to safety issues.

For
the top players participation is obviously never a question. Of the
top 40 ranked PSA players the only ones who aren’t present
are either ineligible (Palmer), or belong to a strong squash nation and
missed inclusion in the team (Adrian Grant, Peter Barker, Bradley Ball,
Dan Jenson, Joey Barrington, Simon Parke, Jonathon Kemp, Mark Chaloner,
Allister Walker, Phillip Barker and Hisham Ashour), or whose country’s
squash association still has bickering problems so that their top players
don’t participate in any WSF events (Davide Bianchetti).

Considering
this is the most important team tournament for men’s
squash, and compared to an event like the Olympics it’s fairly
regular, there’s an enormous turnover of players from the 2003
event to now. Of the 118 that competed in Vienna 73 won’t be in
Islamabad! The most notable absentees include Austalia’s David Palmer
and Paul Price, Finland’s only World Junior Champion Juha Raumolin,
Netherlands’ Lucas Buit, Pakistan’s Farrukh Zaman and 3/4s of the
national team from Scotland (including Martin Heath), Germany, Ireland
(including Derek Ryan), the USA and New Zealand (including Glen Wilson
and Daniel Sharplin). Whole countries that have vanished are Hungary,
Italy, Japan, Korea, Switzerland (including Lars Harms), Sweden, Slovenia
andVienna’s wooden spooners Russia.

Of
the 88 players in Islamabad 43 weren’t in Vienna. The notable
inclusions include Australian’s Stewart Boswell who was a member
of the winning 2001 team but sidelined in 2003 with injury, and Cameron
Pilley, Netherlands’
Laurens Jan Anjema, Pakistan’s Shahid Zaman, Spain’s Borja Golan
and India’s
Ritwik Bhattacharya. Teams that are playing in Pakistan, but didn’t
in Vienna are Spain who didn’t submit a team in 2003, and India
who were present for the first world team championships, but are only
playing for the second time in twenty-five years and Iran who make their
debut.

The
tournament is initially being played in pools, after which the top
two teams from each pool will progress to a knockout tournament. Pool
previews follow…
stay
tuned


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