Successful pairing of Nicol David and Ong Beng Hee split up in surprise move
EXCLUSIVE By ALEX WAN – Squash Mad Malaysian Correspondent
Malaysia’s medal chances from doubles at the Commonwealth Games look bleak, judging from the recently concluded Tri-Nation Doubles Squash competition held in Kuala Lumpur.
Overall it is very evident that the Malaysians lack match practice and understanding compared to their compatriots.
This point is echoed by Malaysian men’s number two Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan, who believes they are behind their Commonwealth Games rivals.
Malaysia will be sending three pairs to the games, spearheaded by world number one Nicol David and Low Wee Wern for the women’s doubles, Ong Beng Hee teaming up with Ivan Yuen in the men’s doubles, and Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan with Delia Arnold for the mixed doubles.
In the last two editions, Malaysia had won silver and bronze medals from the mixed pairing of Ong Beng Hee and Nicol David. In a rather surprising move, the pair has been split up this time round.
Ong Beng Hee, the Malaysian veteran who may well be playing in his last Commonwealth Games, is clearly disappointed with the decision, but will also accept and respect the decision for the pairings. Why split up a proven pair is beyond me.
On paper, Nicol David and Low Wee Wern may seem a strong pairing, given both are ranked in the top ten. But their similar style of play, where attacking is not their forte, proved to fall short in the doubles game, where at the Tri Nations, the duo only managed third placing (out of six pairs) behind India’s Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal and New Zealand’s Joelle King and Amanda Landers Murphy. The only other foreign pair below them are Kiwis Megan Craig and Kylie Lindsay.
In the mixed doubles, Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan and Delia Arnold came back from a drubbing against New Zealand’s Martin Knight and Joelle King in their first group match, to finish a credible fourth out of the eight pairs.
India came up tops again with the pairing of their top players Saurav Ghosal and Dipika Pallikal who beat Joelle King and Martin Knight for the title.
The Malaysian pair can walk with their heads high having beaten their New Zealand and Indian counterparts in the group before losing out in the third placing playoffs to Paul Coll and Amanda Landers Murphy of New Zealand.
It’s unfortunate that the Ong Beng Hee and Ivan Yuen pairing was not tested as the latter had university examinations.
His place was taken by Elvinn Keo in the Tri Nations Doubles. The duo finished an unimpressive fourth, ahead only of fellow local pairs who will not feature in the Commonwealth Games.
The men’s doubles was dominated by the Kiwis, as the pairing of Campbell Grayson and Martin Knight beat team-mates Paul Coll and Lance Beddoes in the final. India’s Saurav Ghosal and Harinderpal Sandhu finished third.
England look strong with four of the top ten men in Nick Matthew, James Willstrop, Peter Barker and Daryl Selby, and two of the top ten women in Laura Massaro and Alison Waters.
Australia will have a strong team too, with former world number ones David Palmer and Rachel Grinham in the lineup.
Given the depth of the players of the other countries, it will be tough for Malaysia to come back with a medal, especially when they’ve split up the successful pairing of Ong Beng Hee and Nicol David.