Some countries had already announced their line-ups for a few weeks, but the complete list of players who will feature in the upcoming World Team Championship has been published last weekend. Here is a team review, twelve days before the start of the competition.
By Jérôme Elhaïk
It was undoubtedly the most awaited line-up, because of the depth of their reservoir. A few days ago, Egyptian Federation revealed the names of the four players who will be in Marseille: Karim Abdel Gawad, Ali Farag, Marwan El Shorbagy and Ramy Ashour. A real army, while they could have easily fielded another world class team: Tarek Momen, Omar Mosaad (runner-ups in 2013), Fares Dessouky, Mohamed Abouelghar and above all Mohamed El Shorbagy, whose absence is surely not related to sporting criteria only given his recent results. One of the most important facts is the presence of Ramy Ashour, who's been hit by injuries for a few years, but still put on some incredible performances when his body allowed him to. This is definitely a new era for Egypt, Ashour being the only player to have featured in the WTC before. He was part of the team when Egypt was crowned in 2009 and 2011, and he has never lost a match in the event.
Ali Farag and Marwan El Shorbagy (on the right) won the World Junior Team Championship in 2010, and they will make their debut together seven years later in the senior event (Photo credit: World Squash Federation)
As far as England goes, there was no doubt that the experienced trio Matthew – Willstrop – Selby was going to get picked. National coach David Campion chose Adrian Waller to complete the squad, rather than Chris Simpson, Tom Richards or Declan James. This rewards a string of good results in 2017-2018 for the 27-year old left hander. There was even less mystery about the French quartet. Gaultier, Castagnet, Marche and Serme will try and lead the host country to a first gold medal in its history. The first two have had some physical issues lately but they seem to have put that behind them. Australia will rely on Cameron Pilley and Ryan Cuskelly to keep their place in the top 4, while Zac Alexander and Rex Hedrick (28 and 29 years old) will make their debut in the WTC.
Alongside Pilley and Cuskelly, Australia have picked WTC debutants Zac Alexander and Rex Hedrick (Photo credit: Squash Mad)
New Zealand's squad is 75% the same than four years ago: recently retired Martin Knight is replaced by Ben Grindrod, who was picked as the fourth man - rather than Lance Beddoes - to support Coll, Grayson and Williams. Germany still have their backbone (Simon Roesner and Raphaël Kandra, both in great form lately) and brought some new faces: Rudi Rohrmuller and Valentin Rapp have featured a few times at the European level but will appearance for the first time in the World Team Championship. Some people may be surprised that Ramit Tandon is not part of the Indian team, especially after his brilliant run in Mumbai last week. But it's likely that the decision was made before, and the selected players have also been in impressive form in the last few weeks, especially Ghosal and Sandhu. Unsurprisingly, Scotland line-up is made of the four players who featured in the 2017 European Team Championship's semi-final (Clyne, Lobban, Kempsell, Moran). On the other hand, Spanish coach was surely faced with a tough choice. Alongside seasoned campaigners Golan and Cornes, he picked youngsters Pajares and Jaume at the expense of Lopez. Hong Kong is the only country besides the big guns – Egypt, France, England – to have three players in the top 30: Lee, Au, Yip were already part of the team four years ago as well as Tang Ming Hong who got chosen as substitute rather than Wong Chi Him. The situation is different for Malaysia where Nafizwan Adnan is the only player left from 2013. The team is rejuvenated with the arrival of Yuen, as well as youngsters Kamal and Ng (21 and 19 years old).
Hong Kong (top left), India (top right, with Ghosal and Malhotra), Germany (bottom left, with Kandra and Roesner) and Malaysia (bottom right, with Ng and Kamal) are among the underdogs for the WTC (Photo credits: timesofindia.indiatimes.com / www.nst.com.my / www.hksquash.org.hk / www.nw.de)
30 players among the world top 50 will feature in Marseille. Who are the ones who won't? There are ten from Egypt and four from England, but also players from countries who are not participating this year (Diego Elias, Miguel Angel Rodriguez, the Salazar brothers, Abdulla Al Tamimi) as well as Farhan Mehboob, Pakistan number 1 but who was not selected.
Most of the South American countries will be missing in Marseille, and with them a few top players – from left to right, Cesar Salazar (Mexico), Diego Elias (Peru) and Miguel Angel Rodriguez (Colombia) (Photo credit: Diego Elias)
Complete team line-ups are available on this page.