Commonwealth Games 2014: Olympics must allow us in says Nick Matthew after taking epic squash final

The sport lost out to the reintroduction of wrestling at the last vote in 2013 and must wait until 2028 at the earliest for an Olympic introduction

The Scotstoun Stadium

The Commonwealth Games served up a match worthy of an Olympic final on Monday, if only the International Olympic Committee saw the world the same way. What’s not to like, the No 2 and No 6 in the squash world rankings going at it with inhospitable ferocity in a glass cage visible from all sides?

The ancient Olympians would have thrown garlands of laurel around the necks of the gold medallist Nick Matthew and beaten finalist James Willstrop without a second thought. They were only sharpened racket frames from gladiatorial warfare in an epic contest lasting an hour and 40 minutes, Matthew taking the match 11-9, 8-11, 11-5, 6-11, 11-5.

The sport lost out to the reintroduction of wrestling at the last vote in 2013 and must wait until 2028 at the earliest for an Olympic introduction. Bonkers on this evidence. “We have done the sport justice,” said Matthew. “This is the Commonwealth Games but that was a world- standard final. We have both been world No 1. Hopefully, the IOC were watching and go, ‘wow we need to get this sport in’. It had everything.”

No arguments from this quarter. There is no great love passing between these very different Yorkshiremen, but plenty of respect. Willstrop, at 30, four years the junior, must be wondering what on earth he has to do to register a first victory in seven years against his great rival.

 

The head-to-head count stands at 42-11 in Matthew’s favour. The champion admitted that had it been a boxing contest the ref might have stopped it in his opponent’s favour. “I never felt I had one bit of control in the whole match. He had me under so much pressure. It was testament to my fighting ability that I stuck in there. He was playing great squash and I had to be attritional. I exhausted Plan A, B, C and so on. I think I was on Plan Z by the end.”

Matthew’s victory was the more remarkable given the knee operation he underwent just five weeks ago. “I’m a stubborn so-and-so. I’m a Yorkshireman, an only child and a Leo. Put that lot together and you have one hell of a stubborn character.”

Willstrop had problems of his own. The hip condition he has been nursing these past six weeks requires surgery, but he did not make that an excuse. As Matthew generously acknowledged, Willstrop reached the greater heights, the point to level at 4-4 in the fourth game typical of his vision, flair and touch. He added the next two to take control of the game and, ultimately, the match into a decider.

Nicol David celebrates winning the women’s final against Laura Massaro Nicol David celebrates winning the women’s final against Laura Massaro (Getty)

Typically, after periods of almost unanswerable artistry Willstrop would behave like a kettle that had just boiled. The cooling was not rapid but enough to allow Matthew to insinuate his way back into the match. He was quickly into the fifth game, taking the first two points. Willstrop’s 6ft 4in frame seemed to sag a little, as if he knew his chance had gone.

It had. Matthew took it 11-5, and with it his second Commonwealth gold. “I gave everything I could. I haven’t got a good record against him. I’m used to it,” Willstrop said. “There was a point in the fourth when I thought, ‘this is as good a chance as you are going to get. This is it’. He is not at his peak physically, but it didn’t work out. We have had some antagonistic matches in the past but there is respect there, despite us being very different characters.

“He was humble at the end, he usually is after matches. He was very sincere but then it is always easy to be sincere when he has beaten me, but that is fine. He won the match. It was a great match. If you had said we might produce that five weeks ago when we were both in a mess we would have been pleased with that.” 

In the women’s singles the world No 1 Nicol David of Malaysia beat England’s world No 2 Laura Massaro in three games to take gold. Massaro wasted game point in the first and never recovered, losing 12-10, 11-2, 11-5. “I was disappointed not to convert that game ball,” Massaro said. “Things like that can turn matches. After that she settled down very well and it was always going to be difficult”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee