Special Correspondent

Mumbai: Ritwik Bhattacharya was gung-ho at Saurav Ghosal’s feat of conquering three players seeded above him and clinching the Ornano International Open trophy PSA tour event recently.

India’s No. 2 player, Bhattacharya lost in the quarterfinals of the same event at Bordeaux, France, but lavished praise on Ghosal’s fine achievement.

“Saurav played excellent squash right through the event, it’s good for Indian squash,” said Bhattacharya, who would provide the main challenge to Malaysia’s World No. 11, Mohd. Azlan Iskandar in the Rs. 6 lakh prize money Bombay Gymkhana HSBC-Maharashtra State Open squash championship.

Thanks to the host’s generosity that took care of Bhattacharya’s air travel expenses from France to India, the men’s final is expected to see a contest of sorts between one-time sparring partners.

Politely candid in highlighting the need of the hour to boost Indian squash, Bhattacharya said a proper structure has to be in place first.

“Five Egyptians figure in the PSA top 21, and 128 juniors figure in a 9-11 age group event there. India has the kids, but they don’t have access to the courts.

“I am not saying that the Egyptian system would be good for India, but there has to be a proper structure. England has a national league and an excellent structure. Anything is welcome for India’s seniors, a national league or ranking tournaments.

“There has to be at least a dozen tournaments, once in a month event just like the Maharashtra State Open. A quarterfinalist should be assured of Rs. 15,000. The structure should be such that the squash players should be able to make a living playing the sport.”

According to Raj Arora, in-charge of squash at Bombay Gymkhana, the total prize money for squash in India is a under Rs. 50 lakh.

“HSBC, Westside and SAPAT have some people with them who have passion for squash. Many Indian squash players have made a lot of sacrifice. Things are getting better, but as Ritwik said, there has to be a proper structure in place, mainly public courts” said Arora.

The Bombay Gymkhana’s budget for the State Open, all inclusive, is Rs. 12 lakh.

Special programme

Bhattacharya is glad the Sports Ministry has initiated a special training programme for India’s international and domestic sportspersons and prepare them for the Commonwealth Games 2010 in particular.

The Sports Ministry has identified a long list of players, 40 in badminton and 84 in wresting, for advanced training and exposure for the Commonwealth Games to be held in New Delhi.

More In: SPORT | Today's Paper