The nation’s hopes on his solid shoulders, Saurav Ghosal will have plenty on his plate when the Commonwealth Games begin. That he is a noted figure in the world of squash today is in part thanks to an Englishman who has nurtured the raw talent to represent a complete package.
Malcolm Willstrop is a name thrown around in squash circles due to his exquisite coaching methods. Ghosal has been training under Willstrop at the Pontefract Squash Club in West Yorkshire where he is head coach.
“Saurav has done well in his four years here. The set up is professional and he is highly organised and has made use of everything available,” said Willstrop. “I think the relationship has been beneficial. The way he has combined the best of Indian and European styles, I think that is the best thing I have done for him.”
Asked whether playing alongside his son James (World No. 6) and a host of other European squash players had aided his growth, Willstrop said, “He doesn’t train exclusively with James, we don’t work like that here and there are lots of good players at Pontefract. For Saurav, to be involved with James, Lee Beachill and Vanessa Atkinson, two former World No 1s, will do him good.”
The Indian has been on the fringes of the top-20 (he is currently ranked 27) for some time but Willstrop said, “Saurav is already top 20 standard, he has beaten (Cameron) Pilley and (Md. Azlan) Iskandar and went to five with the great Amr Shabana in Hong Kong recently. Rankings sometimes take time to reflect improvement. He will soon be there.”
Regarding the Games, Willstrop said, “He needs to build confidence when he is playing the best. His pace is a massive advantage, he is seriously quick. Saurav looked good when he left for India and I would expect him to perform well in world-class fields. The truth is it is about performing on a particular day.”
Another medal hopeful, Joshna Chinappa has recently begun learning the ropes under him. “I consider it a privilege that Indian squash has placed their trust in me and I hope they feel I have done their players justice and complemented the work they do back home,” said Willstrop.