Established sporting nations like Australia, England, South Arica and Sri Lanka will be battling for World Cup honours in India next week.
But you could be forgiven for being surprised to learn that Egypt is the nation favoured to win this title – as this is the JSW SDAT WSF World Cup, the first world squash championship of the year which will take place in Chennai from 8-12 March.
Led by two of the top three players in the world, Egypt is expected to overcome all opposition in this unique World Squash Federation mixed event featuring two-man-one-woman teams. Egypt’s stars are Ramy Ashour, the 23-year-old world No2 who is one of only two players to have won both the world senior and junior titles, and Cairo compatriot Karim Darwish, the world No3.
But second seeds England will no doubt want to make amends for their cricketing counterparts by successfully defending the title they won in the last staging of the event in 1999. Women’s world No2 Jenny Duncalf could prove to be the deciding factor – playing alongside fellow Yorkshire star James Willstrop, the world No4, and Londoner Peter Barker, ranked just three places lower.
“World Cups generate such excitement – as football shows every four years and cricket is proving right now,” said WSF Chief Executive Andrew Shelley. “Our World Cup is for mixed teams, unlike others, but that just adds a further element of excitement.”
“And the squash version is shorter and sharper too. Bring it on!”
The 2011 JSW SDAT WSF World Cup will be staged initially at the Indian Squash Academy, before moving onto an all-glass show court erected at the Express Avenue Mall, the largest shopping complex in southern India.
Australia, the champions in 1996, are the third seeds, led by former world No1 Rachael Grinham. And Nicol David, the 27-year-old from Penang who this week became the second longest standing women’s world number one of all-time, leads the campaign for fifth seeds Malaysia.
The pool line-up (with seeding in brackets) is as follows:
Pool A:  EGYPT,  FRANCE,  MALAYSIA,  SOUTH AFRICA,  SRI LANKA
Pool B:  ENGLAND,  AUSTRALIA,  INDIA,  MEXICO