Egypt 2-0 England
Karim Abdel Gawad 3-2 Declan James 9-11, 11-4, 8-11., 11-9, 12-10 (107m)
Ali Farag 3-1 Adrian Waller 11-6, 11-6, 12-14, 11-4 (57m)
Tarek Momen v James Willstrop not played
Funny how the level of players raises incredibly when they have the name of their country on their back. I’ve witnessed it times and times again, leading France to win the Davis Cup so many times in tennis when the level of the individuals was no where near the top…
Pressure. National Pride. Declan James today played some sublime squash. And as I watch those two battle on court, I couldn’t help smiling as they were both as cool as it comes. Those two are extraordinary of calm, controlled emotions. They show little, feel a lot and put all their focus into playing the best squash they can, not dwelling on an error or rejoicing on a great shot.
“Declan was unucky” stated the SquashTV commentator. Was he? yes, it’s the first time ever that Gawad wins a five setter, isn’t it. …..
No, Dec was not unlucky. He was superb, fast, determined, relentless, and bleeping talented. And so was Gawad. Karim, having had a nose bleed that stopped the game for nearly 30m, didn’t lose his focus, and handled the pressure beautifully, once he managed to push a decider – hold the press…
The fifth was nail bitting from begining to end. 3/3, 4/4, then 6/6, 7/7. The two camps are jumping up Wagih’s style, each their turn. You can read of their faces how crucial this match is. Not that England will win if Dec wins, but the chance will be there, for sure.
At 9/7, it looks like Gawad is finally a bit in control, as the rally at 7/7, ridiculous squash border dangerous as the sweat is making the play dangerous without the referee taking any notice, seems to have taken a lot out of the Englishman.
10/8, match ball, but a sublime winner from Dec, going for his shot Egyptian way, and a clipping of the tin from Karim, and we are 10/10. But finally an error from Declan, 11/10 and a weird shot that Declan cannot return, no let confirmed, and it’s 12/10 for Egypt.
HUGE relief from the Egyptian camp, it’s tangible even from afar…
The next match, well, Ali is in control, 11/6, 11/6, up 9/6 in the third, relaxing a fraction of a second, Adrian pushing up the court, taking his chances and it works. Saving 3 match balls from 10/9, the lefthander takes the third on his first attempt, 14/12.
But Ali is fully back in the fourth, not giving the English a sniff, 2/0, 4/1, 11/4… Egypt retains the title. But easy, plain sailing, this championship wasn’t. Good effort guys, well done to all.
“It feels amazing. We came here as favourites on paper, but from the beginning it was tough and we were dropping games and matches, which shows the level of squash. Especially today, you saw the match between Dec and Karim, it was world class and I’m glad to have been part of it.
“I was lucky enough to play the last point, but it was a team event and I’m very proud to have been a part of it.”
Assem Khalifa, President of the Federation
“Every year this event becomes more difficult for us. Other teams are preparing themselves better and better each year. I don’t expect anything. You cannot guarantee anything in this event: look at Karim, who had a nose bleed – this was completely unexpected. You have to prepare yourself for the unexpected.
“It’s not enough to come here with No1, No2 and No3 players in the world – because the team event is completely different from the individual event. The spirit of the team increases performance by maybe 50%. A lot of players here have been doing unbelievable things because they are playing for their country. You are not playing as an individual, you are playing for your flag, for your country – it is totally different.
“All these players are professional players, they play for the PSA and they play for prize money. But they come here and give for their country, and we appreciate all of them, and this is the beauty of a team event.
“This event is very important for Egypt – you see here our Ambassador has come to support us today – and he would not come to an individual event. Squash is the number one game in Egypt, after football. Everybody back home is waiting for us to bring home the trophy.”