Here is my choice of the ten best male and female squash players in history. Squash is a sport that seems to lend itself to long periods of dominance by a single athlete. If you look to the history of both the men’s and women’s game the best players have been virtually unbeatable. The problem is trying to weigh up whether this dominance is due to a lack of strength in the game or the brilliance of the champions. The following lists are my choices in order.
Jahangir Khan (Pakistan) won the World Open, the most important title in the sport, six times between 1981 and 1988 and the British Open, the event with the longest history, a record ten times. Between 1981 and 1986 Jahangir was unbeaten in a sequence which ran to an amazing 555 matches. This is reckoned to be the longest win streak in the history of any top level sport. He was also the wold amateur champion at the age of fifteen and was successful in America at hardball squash.
Jansher Khan (Pakistan) won the world Open a record eight times between 1987 and 1996. He also won the British Open six times and was ranked world number one for almost ten years from 1988 to 1998, winning 99 tournaments.
Geoff Hunt (Australia) was the winner of the first four editions of the World Open from 1976 to 1980 and won the British Open eight times between 1969 and 1981. Following the introduction of world rankings in 1975 he was world number one for nearly five years.
Hashim Kham (Pakistan) was the greatest player in the 1950s. Before the World Open was inaugurated the British Open was the greatest tournament and Hashim won it seven times in eight years between 1951 and 1958, losing in the final the other time. He also won the British professional title five times. Some consider him the greatest ever but I feel that the lower level of competition in his era reduces that claim.
After these four players there is a gap to the next rank of champs.
Jonah Barrington (England) was arguably the greatest British player with six British Open wins from 1967 and 1973.
F.D. Amr Bey (Egypt) was the first dominant player in squash with six consecutive wins in the British Open from 1933 to 1938 and six British Amateur titles. He took the sport to a new level of speed and fitness.
Peter Nicol (Scotland/England) was world number one for a total of five years between 1998 and 2004. He won one World Open, two British Opens and two Comnwealth Games golds.
David Palmer (Australia) twice winner of the World Open and four times the British Open between 2001 and 2008.
Azam Khan (Pakistan) the younger brother of Hashim Khan , Azam won four British Opens himself in the from 1959 to 1962. He also lost three times in finals to Hashim.
Mahmoud Karim (Egypt) won four British Open titles from 1947 to 1950 and then lost the next two finals to Hashim.
Heather McKay (Australia) was possibly the most dominant sportswoman in history. She only lost two matches in her career and from 1962 to 1981 was unbeaten. In that period she won sixteen British Opens in a row from 1962 to 1977 and the first two World titles. It must be said that the opposition in that era wasn’t always very strong but the amazing length of time that McKay reigned supreme makes her top in my opinion.
Nicol David (Malaysia) may yet supercede Mckay in this list as she is still active. In a more competitive era she has been world number one for eight years, winning a record seven World open titles and five British Opens. She had a 55 game winning streak at one point and has been virtually unbeatable at times.
Susan Devoy (New Zealand) was the dominant player of the late 1980s and early 1990s. She was ranked best in the world for almost nine years with four World Open and eight British Open titles to her name and is very closely matched with David in my rankings.
After these three is a bit of a gap to the next level who are headed by
Michelle Martin (Australia) who succeeded Devoy as the best player in the world. She won three World Open and six British opens in the 1990s and was world number one for a total of around four years.
Sarah Fitz-Gerald (Australia)was another of the great players at the turn of the century. She won five World and two British Opens, spending over three years at number one.
Janet Morgan (England) was the greatest player of the pre-McKay era. She won the British Open in every edition of the event in the 1950s. This total of ten is still the second highest in history, which gives her a place in my top ten even if the opposition was mainly British.
Vicki Cardwell (Australia) was the best player of the early 1980s and won the British Open four times from 1980 to 1983 and the world open in 1983 before Devoy took over at the top,
Margot Lumb (England) was the best player before the war, winning the British Open every year from 1935 to 1939.
Rachael Grinham (Australia) won four British opens between 2003 and 2009 and also won one World Open.
Cassie Jackman (England) won a world open and a Commonwealth Games gold medal in the late 1990s. She had two spells as world number one.