Wednesday 30 May 2007

Nicol spreads the word in India

Peter Nicol announcing his retirementFormer world number one Peter Nicol has been promoting squash on a visit to Mumbai, India.

Continuing the excellent ambassadorial work he does for the sport, Nicol gave youngsters a coaching session and spoke of the dedication required to reach the very top.

India already has a number of professional players in the world top 50, with Saurav Ghosal and Ritwik Bhattacharya playing PSA tournaments and Joshna Chinappa having success on the WISPA tour.

In his interview with NDTV, Nicol said he sees India as a country capable of producing squash talent, and also talks of squash's ongoing battle to become an Olympic sport.

See the news story on Indian television here.

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Sunday 27 May 2007

Anyone for "blackminton"?

BlackmintonThe Guardian this week reported on the rise of a number of new hybrid sports, the most intriguing being "blackminton".

But could the concept be transferred to squash?

Essentially badminton played in the dark with fluorescent strips taped over the racket and a glow in the dark ball, the sport looks allows its participants to act out Tron-style fantasies without the need to climb inside an Amstrad CPC 6128.

Surely the squash's speed would make nocturnal play prohibitive. But with crackpot enthusiasts already mad for blokarting, octopush and goalball, coming up with a wacky name might prove most difficult.

If you don't believe it, have a look here.

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Wednesday 16 May 2007

Court improvements whitewashed

Lovely white walls ...When your squash club is closed for a week for "painting", you assume that scuffs will be whitewashed and holes poly-filled.

Not so at Finsbury Leisure Centre ...

After missing nearly a fortnight of games, I was keen to get back on to the newly-pristine courts - maybe they would have even scraped the mould out of the corners!

After walking up the "tunnel" (anyone else play on courts whose entrance is akin to a nuclear bunker?), the pungent result of a week's labour had a strangely motivating effect as I bounded up the steps to court 2.

Only I found that the court walls had not been painted at all. The brickwork above, to the side and EVERYWHERE ELSE BUT THE WALLS OF THE COURTS had been painted - the shade of choice being "light mustard".

So for the squash player, the week's closure had made no improvement whatsoever to the quality of the facilities.

I hope squash fan Richard Wilson hasn't a hit scheduled here this week - he wouldn't belieeeve it!

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Saturday 12 May 2007

Scottish squash to benefit from Glasgow 2014?

Squash in Scotland is set to receive a boost if Glasgow is successful in its bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The organising committee has pledged to build new courts as a part of a programme to complement existing sporting venues that have already been earmarked to stage events.

A successful British bid to host the Games would give squash guaranteed media coverage, and help recognise the status of home-grown players on the world stage (though the Games are seven years away, and some of the current top British players may have retired).

Scottish squash is particular need of investment, given the retirement in the past few years of players like Martin Heath, Pam Nimmo and Peter Nicol (following his move to England).

It is also not clear whether any Scots juniors are pushing to join the senior professional ranks. At the recent European U19 Championships, Scotland did not enter any players in the individual events.

Glasgow 2014

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Tuesday 8 May 2007

Squash ball "did not contravene spirit of cricket"

Now where could this come in handy?Yes, you read correctly. Today the MCC published its response to the allegations made by Sri Lanka, the losing team in the 2007 cricket World Cup final, against the match-winning Australian wicket keeper/batsman Adam Gilchrist.

Gilchrist had revealed in a post-match interview that his superb innings of 149 was aided by a squash ball concealed inside one of his batting gloves. The ball was stuffed into the palm of his hand in order to help soften his grip on the bat.

The Sri Lankan team subsequently complained that the appendage was not in the spirit of the game.

However the governing body of cricket, the MCC, today ruled that it was all a bit of storm in a teacup, and that the Australian vice-captain had done nothing wrong.

Gilchrist hasn't let on, but the speed at which the ball was flying to all parts of the ground suggests a single-yellow-dot ...

The MCC's statement

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Monday 7 May 2007

Observer doesn't look hard enough

England's Vicky Botwright and Laura LengthornThe usually excellent Observer Sport Monthly published its "Women's Issue" on Sunday 6th May.

But where were the squash players?

The magazine featured women from many different sports - including minority sports - contrasting their fortunes and focussing on British talent.

While the badminton Olympic silver medallist Gail Emms and gymnast Beth Tweddle (amongst many others) both posed for a portrait, there was no word on women's squash (or the success of Britain's women in the professional game).

This is especially disappointing, given that, in the May 2007 rankings, there are 7 British women in the world top 20.

How many British sports can claim that?

Observer Sport Monthly

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Saturday 5 May 2007

English success at European Teams

England's men and women's teams celebrate in ItalyCongratulations to the England men's and women's squash teams, who have taken their respective European team titles.

The tournament - this year held in Riccione in Italy - saw both English teams defeat Dutch opposition to become champions.

Sadly, none of the quality British press carried the results on the following Monday.

European Squash Federation

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