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This father and son duo 'Willstrop' at nothing

Had James Willstrop not taken to squash, he would have been a cricketer. At least that's the way father and coach, Malcolm, puts it about the World No. 2 from England.

other Updated: Dec 15, 2011 23:52 IST
Anamika Nandedkar

Had James Willstrop not taken to squash, he would have been a cricketer. At least that's the way father and coach, Malcolm, puts it about the World No. 2 from England.

Enjoying the best phase of his career, Willstrop cruised past Alister Walker of Botswana on Thursday, winning 12-10, 11-4, 11-5 to enter the quarterfinals of the PSA Masters.

Malcolm, one of the top coaches in the sport, told HT that James was a keen cricketer during his formative years. But in the battle between squash and cricket, the former won. What a choice it has been!

"James also took a break from the sport when he was two to take up biking. But he came out of that retirement when he was three," said the 74-year-old, gifted with an infectious sense of humour.

As the players got down to business at the Siri Fort Sports Complex, Malcolm refused to give an insight into the game-plan of his illustrious students - James and India's Saurav Ghosal.

"I am proud of James. He is a hard working son and so is Saurav. Both put in a lot of effort into everything they do and are disciplined. And they are doing quite well here in Delhi too," he said.

However, Malcolm wasn't happy with the attendance at the year's last World Series event. "It's sad to see empty stands. I have seen packed houses in places like Rotterdam and New York, and almost every other place. It's only in India and Qatar that people don't show up. It gives a false impression about the sport's popularity."

Dreams squashed
The squash fraternity has been working relentlessly to get the sport included in the Olympics. The attempts have hit roadblocks as it was not included in London 2012 and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

"It would have been incredibly advantageous for England had it been included for the London Games. The world No. 1 and 2 are from our country and we have so many talented young players in the top-20," said Malcolm. "Maybe we all failed to push it," he rued.

Ghosal crashes out
Saurav Ghosal's pursuit for a quarterfinal berth was halted by England's Peter Barker who beat the Indian 11-5, 11-8, 6-11, 11-5. Barker, ranked seventh in the world, played to his strength even though Ghosal gave him stiff challenge in a fast-paced match that lasted 52 mins.