THE BLOG

England Become World Squash Champions in Mulhouse

22/06/2013 21:47 BST | Updated 21/08/2013 10:12 BST

An incredible few weeks for England Squash culminated with the Men's squash team becoming World Champions in Mulhouse last Saturday.

Things began to get interesting in the semi final against France on Friday 14th June.. The first match of the tie, between Nick Matthew and Greg Gaultier turned in to one of their best, a heavyweight physical stand-off played before a partisan French crowd. There was skill and athleticism and some farce too: Gaultier cramped at 9-6 up in the fifth, screaming in pain. Having already taken an injury break earlier in the match he was not allowed to take another.

The referee declared 'game and match to England', in response to which the Gallic Gaultier jumped to his feet quicker than a spring chicken, the cramp having evidently disappeared. Play continued and Matthew managed to eat away that considerable deficit in the fifth to take the match, jumping for joy, after 132 minutes.

Going on court after midnight, I beat Thierry Lincou 3-1 to take us in to the final.

Having done everything we could to recover, the final with no.1 seeds Egypt began well when Daryl Selby showed unbelievable poise to win the first rubber of the final 3.0 against Tarek Momen, an outstanding display of squash under pressure. Nick then played as if he had had a 32 minute match the day before rather than 132 minute match, and was soon 1-0 and 4-1 up against world number one Ramy Ashour. For a moment, as I sat watching the screen in the warm up area, I began to entertain the possibility that I might not be needed to play the deciding match against Karim Darwish.

Ashour responded though, and took the next three games to force the decider.

I know it is just a game, heaven knows I kept telling myself that, and there are worse things in life than losing, but the opportunity to become a world champion doesn't come around every day and coming second just isn't the same. I remembered that from 2 years ago when I lost to Darwish in the deciding rubber.

I won the match 3-1 in a tense and cagey 69 minute match and not a second of it was easy.

To enjoy that moment with the team: Nick, Daryl, Adrian Grant, physio Jade Elias, coaches Chris Robertson and happily, my brother David Campion with whom I have worked for years, and to give back to those at England Squash and Racketball who have lent us so much support, was incredibly special. I have a feeling, whatever else I do in squash, it might not get much better than that.

James' book 'Shot and a Ghost' is available at willstrop.co.uk or on kindle