There are many reasons behind the emergence of Egypt in professional mens squash but here I will comment on the importance they place on hitting front court winners.
Obviously, this skill is facilitated by an excellent all round squash ability but it seems to me that the shot hierarchy in Egypt over the years may have been different from the other squash playing nations. When choosing which shots should hold precedence over the other – disguise; creativity and attacking angles seem to have been elevated above all else. The game is built from the winning shot backwards.
I will use an educational analogy to illustrate this point further, traditionally such subjects as English, Maths and the Sciences have been considered the most important when it comes to securing a job on completion of your education and because of this they are duly given the most attention and scrutiny. Yet given the growing diversity of the workplace, subjects previously less well regarded may well be of greater importance with the old standards only needed in an accompanying capacity.
In squash, the dominant players in the professional era starting with Jonah Barrington and Geoff Hunt have mostly put their faith in the back court, in particular in containment through perfecting the straight and crosscourt drive. In recent years with the introduction of point a rally scoring and the lowering of the tin, the landscape of the squash world has changed drastically.
Could the shot making legacies of the Egyptians through the years finally be bearing the sweet fruits of a commitment to attacking, expressive squash? A sort of divine justice to the purists?
It may be that the new order is enjoying the predictability of a back court strategic game and the mental rigidity it can promote. The conundrum posed to players and coaches alike is where the game will go in the next five years, who will get ahead of the curve and plan now to succeed later. For obvious reasons the tired expression of the game as it was dims as we retain only which is necessary. The pursuit of excellence will not allow anything superfluous.
Of course, on this topic it could be argued that Ramy Ashour aside, the other four Egyptian representatives currently in the top ten PSA rankings (El Shorbagy, Darwish, Shabana, Mosaad) have games built on solid fundamentals and consistent intensity. But saying that, all of them have that fearless quality to find the nick without effort when the situation requires.
There are many interesting tangents which form from these thoughts, maybe we will mull them over in the future.