In the past couple of decades, Pakistan squash has been on a continuous decline, so much so, that we have not succeeded in winning any major title for a considerable time. Pakistan boasts a history of several records in international squash created by the legendary Khans — Jahangir and Jansher — from the early ’80s to mid-90s. It was the golden era of Pakistan squash.
Jahangir Khan emerged as teenage world beater and ruled the world squash by winning the prestigious British Open for a record 10 successive times as well as lifting the World Open trophy six times. Trained and coached by his cousin Rahma Khan who was among the top 15 in world ranking, he retired in glory after leading Pakistan to victory for the sixth and last time in 1993 World Team Championship in Karachi.
Jansher Khan added a new chapter in squash history by winning the World Open for a record eight times besides capturing the British Open on six occasions. The Khan’s last appearance was in 1996 British Open when he lost to Peter Nicol. This is besides the many other reputed events that both the mighty Khans had won all over the world. They were highly professional and committed to tremendous hard work much to the delight of sports-loving nation.
Unfortunately, after their retirement the new generation has been unable to match the standards and has yet to regain the World Open, World Team Championship or the British Open title. Although the Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) has worked out several coaching and training programmes for the players with the hope of reviving the lost glory, the outcome, so far, remains unsatisfactory.
One of the causes for the failure in major international tournaments is that our coaches are technically incapable of training them on the modern and scientific lines that require extraordinary fitness and skill to overcome formidable challenges. None of our players for the past many years have been able to reach the semifinal or even quarterfinal stage in the World Open and the British Open. Similar is the scenario is other super series events where Pakistani squash players were ousted in the first or second round. Players’ commitment has also been questioned.
Pakistan has an enormous pool of talent, but it lacks properly planned training and coaching. The PSF should explore the possibility of hiring a foreign coach on contractual basis — perhaps from England or Egypt since both the countries have admirable coaching systems — to groom the youngsters. As is seen generally, foreign coaches are hard taskmasters and they should be given freehand to carry out their training. About a dozen players should be selected from all over the country for a centralised training programme. Hopefully, this attempt will make all the difference.