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NOVEMBER 2001 Contents
Page 6 of 8
PAKISTAN SQUASH - THE
(All photos courtesy Squashtalk.com)
Qamar Zaman was the Ilie Nastase of Squash. He was born in Quetta in 1952. AfterRoshan and the Egyptian Mohammed Dardir, experts opine that Qamar was the most brilliant stroke player of the game ever. Like any brilliant player he was prone to error. Qamar was plucked out of obscurity by Mr. Muneer Ahmed in 1968 and brought to Lahore from Quetta. The encouragement he received resulted in his making an immediate impression and he quickly won the Pakistan junior championship the same year. He was later inducted into PIA and moved to Peshawar where he along with Mohibullah were placed under the tutelage of Omar Daraz but under the management of Aftab Javed (His paternal uncle). On his very first trip to England he reached the semi finals of the British Amateur in 1973. The following year Qamar reached the semi- finals of the British open, won the Australian Amateur and from then on there was no looking back for him.
In the Britain Open of 1974-¹75 Qamar stunned Geoff Hunt in the Quarter finals andwent on to win the championship beating Gogi Alauddin. Subsequently Qamar stayed at the top of his sport till 1983 and never slipped below No. 2 in the world rankings.
Qamar was an adornment for his sport. His stroke making was breath taking. Winners,drop shots played from the back of the court, delectable boasts used to flow from the racket which he used like a magic wand mesmerising his opponents. If Qamar had a weakness it was lack of resolve. Despite big successes against Geoff Hunt initially, Qamar succumbed to Hunt's relentless pursuit and the margins of victories for Hunt became bigger and bigger. This was because Qamar was not prepared to go through the grind and was content to play second fiddle to Geoff Hunt. Upon Geoff's retirement and Jahangir's advent, Qamar acquiesced to the same situation i.e. No. 2. In his heart Qamar knew he could have beaten them both. He simply was not mentally prepared to endure the torture.
Hidayet Jahan (Hiddy) should be the most respected player of the 1970-¹86 period inthe manner he sustained himself at the top for 16 years in this gruesome sport. Throughout his tenure, Hiddy never slipped out of the world's top 6 and no tribute could be greater for this explosive Pathan.
Hiddy was originally from Quetta and scion of yet another family from Noakili. Hisolder brother Shah Jahan was amongst Pakistan's top three in the years 1963-¹66. Shah Jahan migrated to france in 1972 where he lived till his untimely death from stomach cancer in1990.
Despite great early promise as a junior from 1961 onwards, Hiddy achieved his firstreal recognition when selected to represent Pakistan in the First World Open and Team Championship in Australia 1967. Fate willed otherwise, Hiddy was leaning too far out of the railway carriage door on his way to join the final training camp in Karachi from Quetta when his head struck the signal post. He was lucky to survive but the accident cost him his place.
Hiddy then migrated to Lahore to join college but primarily to avail the facilities forgrowth at the Squash Association courts. The rest is history. Along with his close friends Gogi and Sajjad, he made the breakthrough in international squash in 1969-¹70 which was to lead to an almost total Pakistani domination of the game from 1970 to the mid 1980's.
In retrospect it has to be admitted that Hiddy received a rough deal from Pakistan. Henever got the recognition he thoroughly deserved; others less deserving were placed ahead of him and he never got a stable job offer his talent so richly merited particularly in PIA which snubbed him. Frustrated, he flouted officialdom and went ahead to tour South Africa for purely financial reasons. South Africa, at that time was strictly off limits to the outside world with countries like USA, UK taking an aggressive stance on apartheid. His reasons notwithstanding, he was banned and his passport impounded.
Credit must go to Air Marshal Nur Khan, the Professional Squash Players Associationwho somehow manipulated his return to squash. Hiddy was offered adoption by Britain, partly because of his brilliance and also because of his marriage to current wife Sue Bullmore. The year was 1978 and Hiddy was from then on Britain's top player till 1984. He is settled permanently in Britain but his heart is still with Pakistan despite the heartache at the apparent lack of respect he received from his country of birth.
Hiddy was an explosive squash player probably the hardest hitter in modern squash.His primary aim was to make cracks in the plaster. He was lionhearted, played squash as if his life depended on it. Opponents feared him, as much as his explosive temper which perhaps contributed to his never reaching the pinnacle. His strategy was simple, opponents understood him. He could be careless too but when the chips were down his never say die spirit would always assert itself. It is truly unfortunate that he was always up against an extremely formidable opposition, initially Geoff Hunt, Gogi, Hiscoe, and Jonah Barrington and later Qamar Zaman and Mohibullah who were better players. None can however accuse Hiddy of not giving his 100% every time.
Hiddy is primarily instrumental in giving Jahangir the initial grooming. Indeed, out offriendship for Torsam Khan, he took Jahangir under his wings like a big mother hen. The handsome, fierce Hiddy is not likely to be forgotten in the manner he graced the squash world with his presence.
The years 1970 – 80 were thus the years of consolidation for Pakistan Squash. Its status as a world power was restored. International Championships in Pakistan became a regular feature, with PIA Masters and the Pakistan Open attracting the world’s top players.
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