Zaman – The Series – #1

I can’t begin with the Zaman series of monthly articles without posting this wonderful intro by Tony Elsby…
There can be few better clues to the personality of WORLD SQUASH CHAMPION Qamar Zaman than the way he chooses to spend his days in England….in a pokey room atop a students Hostel in Knightsbridge just a few yards away from the luxury of some of London’s finest Hotels..

Few men at the top of their professions would suffer such Spartan-style but Zaman is not a bankers son nor chairman of the coal board…he is the son of a Squash and tennis unaffected and likeable young man who happens to be of very special consequence when it comes to the business of his profession.

Heralded as ‘THE MAGIC MAN’ he is to Squash what Stanley Matthews was to football and Casius Clay to boxing although he has not been around as long and the point is not so widely appreciated.

At Wembley when Zaman won the British Open Championship for the first time one journalist asked how to spell his first name and admitted he had ‘only vaguely heard of him’…

Since then the stocky Pakistani has established his position as the World number One…inventive…adventurous…humorous…happy…his Squash is THE SERVANT OF SKILL….

Zaman concentrates on pleasing his audience… his Nastase-type knack of producing the unexpected is the better for his ability to keep the officials on his side and for the habit of staying on court to see the game out..

Now, with Squash making its impact felly universally, demand for the World Champion to show the way is greater than ever before.

It is fortunate the game has its chief ambassador, a man who earned his position with flair and a total belief in ATTACK.

His playing philosophy is summed up in characteristic deadpan- style humour….’Certainly as i progress i find i must discipline my game..once every stroke i tried to play i learn it is sometimes better to rally ..Two shots perhaps even three on warm day or when mohibullah is opponent’….

In every way Zaman has a rather less than orthodox approach.

Even in producing a basic shot such as the volley he is different in that he plays it so much more frequently and with greater consistency than his rivals.

It is his mixing of the ordinary with the exciting which sets him apart. Applause from the gallery chages him as the sun charges a solar battery and his greatest pleasure is to recieve appreciation for yet another of his ‘dodgy’ shots!

In an age of pressured sportsmen it is a delight to see the pleasure Zaman derives from travelling the globe, walking the hills of foreign countries playing squash of the highest quality and socialsing keenly with friends and fans alike…and when he speaks about Squash it is often to expain the things you can do with the ball and never to worry too much about the risks involved in trying something different.

Coaching manuals are often full of negatives…how to restrict your opponent etc… Zaman is concerned in the lack of balance in the approach to teaching Squash ..’It is upsetting’ he says…’with the game getting wider publicity..when people complain the young players are all looking the same now’…

‘Play the averages’ they are told.. ‘do not take risks’…

‘But i think this.. if you have dodgy shot which goes too many times into tin then best thing you can do is to practice it some more’…