Saturday, February 24, 2024

Time to clean up game as PSA bid to block out lets

PSA to come down hard on ugly stoppages

omargawadThe new PSA Referees’ Director, Lee Drew, is determined to stamp his mark on the game by attempting to banish any repeat of the ugly squash that marred the first round of the Canary Wharf Classic.

The all-Egyptian opening-night match between No.7 seed Omar Mosaad and his younger compatriot Karim Abdel Gawad descended into farce with 70 refereeing decisions required in a match lasting 71 minutes.

Mosaad won a bruising encounter 3-1 to book a quarter-final match against England’s top seed, world champion Nick Matthew.

With a sell-out crowd in a prestigious London venue, and with a worldwide audience tuning in to the PSA’s live web-streaming service, the men’s World Tour operators are keen to avoid a repeat of Monday’s nightmare match.

One PSA player wrote in to say: “Ironically, squash lost out to wrestling for a place in the 2020 Olympics. Perhaps Mosaad and Gawad were trying to launch some kind of hybrid sport that included a little bit of squash and a lot of wrestling.”

Other PSA members were quick to vent their feelings on Twitter in a spontaneous show of disgust at the over-physical antics on court.

A more considered view arrived via email from a senior PSA Tour pro who said: “It’s very difficult, I’m afraid. It’s such a grey area that many players exploit, and I’m not going to pretend to be innocent myself!

“That’s a big guy (Mosaad), deliberately coming off the ball into someone’s line with a ‘square’ stance. His pure size turns a simple let into a no-let around the mid-court area.

“I’m not sure what Gawad can do, apart from knock a few teeth out with his racket and I’m not sure that’s a great advert for the game, either.

“Neither player wanted to play the ball clearly, and I would have liked to see the referees be stronger on this right from the start.

“Bear in mind, though, that that was one of the stronger referees (John Massarella) in the world of squash! I am glad this is getting talked about.”

We understand that Drew plans to brief players and referees ahead of the Canary Wharf quarter-finals.

Players will be under instructions to stop blocking their opponents, fishing for lets and strokes, and constantly arguing with referees. 

The match officials will be asked to punish such behaviour and to adopt a tougher stance to stop things getting out of control on court.

Squash is serious about preventing a negative image damaging the future of the sport. The PSA is clearly taking a firm line on player behaviour and will demand that referees, currently appointed by the WSF, will be singing from the same hymn sheet.

PSA Chief Executive Alex Gough has already revealed that some TV networks have shown a reluctance to broadcast the sport because of the frequency of puzzling stoppages that are baffling to the non-squash viewer.

And the WSF is keen to present squash in the best possible light to strengthen the ongoing campaign to make squash an Olympic sport.

The two federations are to be applauded if they can heal a gaping wound that has damaged the sport for so long.



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  1. Eliminate the Blocking, Excessive Follow-Through, Crowding, Brushing against opponent as he shapes up for a shot, Preventing direct access to the ball for a Volley, Fishing for Strokes, Time-wasting after score has been called,Walking away from a serve to disrupt opponent, Charging into opponents back, and we would probably have a totally different ranking order in the Top 20. The Rules are there to be applied by the Referees, and farce can only develop if they choose to ignore these tactics, or are not sufficiently aware that dirty tactics are being used. So far as I am aware, there is no special rule for players who are 6′ 4″, if they are in the way they should NOT gain advantage by this, or by referees giving them special allowance. The “no easy lets” attitude has been a licence to gain easy points for the offenders, and the “must make more effort to play the ball” speech to a victim completes the scenario for the offender to win.I have seen the dirty tricks used on many occasions in PSA and PSL matches, and FINALLY, at 10-9 in the 5th game, the referee has CAUTIONED the offender for the first time for “not making enough effort to clear the ball”, having just “won” the point, and leaving him to serve for the Match. So, come on Lee Drew, please sort it out !

  2. I appreciate the efforts taken in this field. In US they try the NO-let solution which apparantly is not to everyones’ liking BUT what if (deep breath) there were also a maximum number of let calls approved per game.

    I see it like this – have probably missed some points on the way but let’s see:

    If you cause the let – eg do not move enough or in any other way cause the let – you will only be allowed to cause 3 lets per game. After that is done each let that is approved by the ref is automatically turned into a stroke.
    Too harsh???

    If you’re a professional player you should know how to move and you should be well aware of the proper shot selection to avoid let situations.

    Let me add – I want it to be very clear that lets should not be approved too easily. You have to make every effort to get to the ball – of course within the limits (eg not causing collisions etc that could be potentially dangerous).

    Anyway. Just a thought.

  3. The solution has to be built into the structure of the game, in my opinion. Any leeway for player tricks or refereeing shortcomings is going to see out eventually, as well as making it more confusing for spectators. What’s needed is the best, simple, all-encompassing set of rules that makes the game work naturally.

  4. Squash is obviously being judged at the highest level in the Sport. All Super Series events are televised, including Slo-Mo, refereeing decisions, players tactics and movement, contentious calls, in fact ALL the aspects that are causing concern. A 2-3 hour video, condensing examples that need to be studied, could be compiled for all referees to refer to for advise and guidance. The participation of a panel of top professional players along with decision-making referees would ensure better mutual understanding for the game to progress, reduce the “howlers”, expose the ‘dirty tricks’, improve control of matches, and a more transparent application of the rules. The aim must be for all matches to be decided fairly, and logically, throughout the contest.

  5. I agree with Eric. It would be nice to see some video examples of how the rules would be changed. For example, show a video where a let would be ruled a stroke, and another video where a let would be ruled a no let. It would be interesting to see if the rules could be formulated in such a way that different refs looking at the same video would reach the same decision. While too many lets might not be good for the game, random no let or strokes won’t do much good either. Personally, I don’t think this whole let issue is that big of a problem. Actually, an “ugly match” here or there adds some entertainment value from my point of view.

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