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NOVEMBER 2001 Contents
Page 8 of 8
PAKISTAN SQUASH - THE
(All photos courtesy Squashtalk.com)
Jansher Khan also of Noakili, Peshawar, represents the very best the world of squash has to offer. He is one of the many world squash champions the small village of Noakili, close tothe Pakistan Air Force Base in Peshawar, has produced.
Jansher Khan is not related to 'the Khans' directly, but comes from the same village.His family was also much poorer. His brother Mohibullah was a dominant force in squash between 1974-¹80, rising as high as World's No. 2. Mohib was an excellent player, his backhand down the line (parallel-shot as in squash) was one of the most explosive I have ever seen, but he was confronted with Geoff Hunt, Qamar Zaman, Jonah Barrington, Gogi Alauddin and was therefore faced with players who had greater claims to recognition.
Jansher's challenge to Jahangir in 1985-86 was dismissed as the precociousness of anupstart and disdainfully rejected. The man was only 16 and a half. Jansher was true to his word, he beat Jahangir six successive times and then started a rivalry which contributed in no small measure to the acceptance of squash as a true international sport. These two were supported by Ross Norman (New Zealand), and the mighty Australian quartet of Chris Dittmar, Chris Robertson, Rodney Martin and Brett Martin.
Jansher's record of domination speaks for itself - eight World Championships, SevenHong Kong Opens, six British Opens, ten Pakistan Opens - so far. Such is Jansher's domination that his occasional defeat merits a headline, his wins are taken for granted.
Comparisons between Jahangir and Jansher are inevitable. Jahangir had a merry first five yearsbecause his opposition was provided by an ageing generation who had seen their best in the early and late 1970's. Jansher was confronted by a most formidable array of younger players all in their prime led by Jahangir, and it was through them he had to make this presence known. His training regimen simply had to be many notches higher.
The manner in which he gradually but firmly established his superiority is now a part ofhistory. Initially, Jansher had to fight many a tenacious opponent in long drawn out battles. It led to classic confrontations and some of the matches would rate as the greatest games of all time. The Pakistan Open final in 1986 when he roared back to beat Jahangir two games down and the World Open final in Malaysia 1988 against Chris Dittmar are classic examples. They also led to renewed interest in squash because Jahangir's domination had ironically led to a loss of spectator interest.
Rivalries are integral to interest. In tennis we had Hoad/Rosewall; Laver/Emerson;Borg/McEnroe/Connors/Lendl; and now Agassi/Sampras; football is nurtured by the Europe/South American rivalry ; golf has had Nicklaus/Palmer/Player; Trevino/Johnny Miller; in squash the rivalry between Jansher/Jehangir/Dittmar/Robertson/Rodney Martin proved very good for the game.
Jansher is like any typical world beater. He is cocky, brash and colourful. His run inswith the authorities add to his personality. He has ignored authority, he has been extremely critical of them. But his squash is excellent, he has worked himself into a position of invincibility and the margins of his wins becomes increasingly one sided.
His on court behaviour is exemplary and has led to the great Irishman, the nowJonah Barrington to say "He is the role model for any sportsman, he is a complete Squash Player". He takes the ball early, his balance, direction and control is phenomenal and his T-domination is fantastic. Jansher is gifted with uncanny anticipation and therefore never seems to be hurried. A World Champion makes his sport look simple, Jansher typifies that as does Pete Sampras in tennis.
Jansher is a truly international figure. He needs to accept his stature and contribute hisshare to giving back some of the affection millions of his fans have given him by identifying with worthwhile causes. He is the world's undisputed champion and surely must rate along with Imran Khan and Jahangir Khan as the three most recognised personalities in their country and abroad.
Hiddy's younger brothers Zarak Jahan Khan and Zubair JahanKhan are amongst the current crop of professional squash players playing on the international circuit . Zubair is currently the world's No. 10 and Pakistan's No. 2 .
Zarak is on the downhill slide with his best years behind him but he can claim eternalsatisfaction from his crucial role winning for Pakistan the World Team title in 1993-¹94 when he beat Rodney Eyles of Australia in a pulsating match.
Squash is still very much a family sport in Pakistan. Jansher's nephews Amjad,Shehzad, Mohib follow him; Qamar Zaman has his youngest brother Omer Zaman, son Mansoor Zaman ; Zubair Jahan is the youngest of the Jahan family. The list is endless.
For them squash is still the only sport they ever wish to know. They are good and soare many other youngsters. No sport has given Pakistan such consistent recognition as squash. Pakistan therefore has a vested interest to ensure the growth of squash not only nationally but internationally . The Nur Khan vision must be revived. Pakistan has at least four major Squash Championship centres in Peshawar, Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore but they need to hum with activity of youngsters and regular events attracting the best in Pakistan and the world.
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