Monday, August 31, 2009

Top 20 Greatest Squash Players

Here goes again. I've updated the top 10 (actually 11 total) because some really great players have emerged for the ages over the last few years. By the way this only goes back 30 years when I started playing and following squash. My son will debate me on this after the 4th pick, no doubt. Any one has a strong argument against these players on the list, I'd love to read about it. These are only from the players I've seen in person or matches I've watched.

Jansher Khan -- Is there any question here? No doubt here. Thank god for films because memory fades a bit. I can view his matches on Youtube rather than rely on a distant memory. He is even greater the second time around.

Jahangir Khan -- Okay if it weren't for Jansher, perhaps the greatest ever. If anyone hasn't seen that match in the early 90's on tape you have to see it. Frazer and Ali III a tremendous match. It took Frazer in that fight to reallly show Ali's greatness, it took Jahangir to show Jansher's greatness. Watch the drops from Jansher as the match progresses. If ever a squash player can tighten those screws his drops did just that. Same punishing drops in a match on tape against Rodney Martin around that time (he's also somewhere on this list).

Ramy Ashour -- I think when it's all said and done he will move up probably another notch. He's still (barring any injury) has a ways to go in his career. But arguably at this stage or any prior stage one of the greatest ever. He has the tenacity and courage of Jahangir and the pure natural ability of Jansher. To see him play up close is well worth whatever price admission.

Peter Nicol -- Okay this was really tough, because my heart tells me Chris Ditmar, but you can't deny the statistics and dominance. I remember first reading about him when I think he was a teenager playing on that US Grand Prix tour. I was a huge fan of Anders Wahlstadt and thought he was such a great player, indeed he was, but who was this kid thrashing Wahlstadt all the time. Some might argue Nicol is the greatest ever... what they said about him when he came on to the squash scene: " he takes the ball so early".

Nick Matthew (tied with Nicol) -- In an age of Ramy, Shabanna, Gaultier, his world titles and return to top spot in the world rankings deserve him in this top list. He really changed the game and raised the bar for his contemporaries. His level of fitness, his pace, and when it's all said and done he will be remembered most for the best forehand volley ever.

David Palmer -- This is a no-brainer. He is sorely missed on the tour. His retirement left a gaping hole. At his peak,  in the current crop of top players he'd be 1 or 2.  But this guy is truly one of the greats. His forehand drop is probably the best ever. And his athleticism and mental toughness without question among the best. I have to put him ahead of Ditmar, tough for me because I think so highly of Ditmar, but this guy against Ditmar, we can only imagine, but the edge for his incredible athleticism.

Chris Ditmar -- One of those players, what can you say, to me one of the most talented I ever saw. I think his stature has dimished in a way because looking at Matthew and Shabanna they found ways to beat the best. Matthew has beaten Ramy and I think Matthew would have presented immeasurable problems for Jahnsher. But still, to think I saw him after he blew out his knee and came back to play at such a high level. What a throwback, sort of like the Larry Bird of squash. If it weren't for Jansher's dominance over him would he have been number two on this list? I can watch clips of this great player and athlete to no end. Gritty and tough, but smart too, just missed the mark. I think he would have had alot of trouble with Ramy Ashour.

Rodney Martin -- The greatest shotmaker in the modern game. Comparable to Ramy. I'm sure there were others, I just didn't see them. Hey, how can you argue with success, he gave Jansher fits. Why Rodney and not Jonathan Power? Hey, this is subjective, was never a big fan of Power and his game.

Geoff Hunt -- Hard to place him now, that age of attrition squash seems like the silent film era. He was the best of his time, but the level of competition wasn't as it has been for the past 20 years. He was the best at what they did back then.

Tristan Nancarrow -- To see him play was something. He was born in to it, maybe came too easily, but such raw talent, such brilliance. I would say he's right there with all those players in any sport that are just so gifted. If he had to do it all over again, my bet is he would have done it differently, worked and trained hard -- and we'd be saying he was in the top 5. Remember, just my opinion. Check out him playing Jahnsher when he was nearly in retirement. He is the one player I'd give anything to see again and agian.

Amir Shabanna -- He may well move up, for some reason just picked up on him and began watching him play. The "Maestro", at 34 years old winning the TOC and beating in successive matches Wilstrop, Matthew and Gaultier -- remarkable. The stats are there.

Too early to tell, but Shorbagy is the future of the game. This player may end up when it's all said and done being somewhere in the top 5 all time. Gaultier? I am a huge fan of his game, a remarkable player, he's got to win the big ones to get on this list.


Squash from Delphi said...

I have to revise this...I did see the video of Jahangir Khan at 17 beating 35 year old Geof Hunt in the World Open in Canada.
I recently read Hunt's book on squash and I think I overlooked him because he was the last great god of attrition squash. I will update this now and explain.

Anonymous said...

I think you're missing Jonathon Power on this list.

Squash from Delphi said...

JP is mentioned; I would have to put Shabanna or Mathew ahead of him; just wasn't a big fan of his; sorry.

Anonymous said...

What this list should have been.
Jansher Khan
Jahangir Khan
Amr Shabanna (4 times world Champion)
Rammy Ashour (best at hitting outright winners ever)
Geoff Hunt (legend of the game)
John White!!!! (best dives you will ever see)
Jonathon Power (the magician)
David Palmer
Chris Ditmar
Nick Matthew (2 times world Champion)
Gregory Gaultier (fastest man on court)
lincou has also been missed I feel.

Squash from Delphi said...

Interesting list but surely Peter Nicol belongs in the top 5 of all time I believe 60 months at number 1 or something like that quite an achievement...remember these are players I personally watched. What's wrong with me? I know what you say about Shabanna, just wouldn't be in my heart to include him, purely subjective. This isn't based on anything else, I have a penchant for the Brits and Aussies, I have to say in sometime soon will add Mathew to that list, he is one of my favorites of all time...Rodney Martin another one, Peter Marshall was something too.

Anonymous said...

I think nick has to do a little higher
Afterall he did beat ramy

Neil K.C said...

Hi Delphi,

since your post in 2009 would u put nick higher now than peter nichol, given his age being number 1 recently and still at that age competing with the best?

Squash from Delphi said...

I hear you Neil K.C. but remember Nicol held the number 1 spot for 5 years! Astounding achievement. I think Mr. Matthew has a lot more squash in him and my guess is would love to see him win another world open! and of course 2-3 more British Open. There are no real up and comers on the English horizon, enjoy this while it lasts the quartet of Matthew, Wilstrop, Barker and Selby.