Australia’s two best female squash players,
sisters Natalie and Rachel Grinham, ranked three and four in the world respectively,
have withdrawn from the team to contest this year’s Women’s World Title as a
public protest over the selection of this year’s Commonwealth Games team.

The pair landed six gold medals between
them at the Games, and there’s every likelihood their withdrawal will cost Australia
its ninth World Women’s Title.

“All I will say is that after what happened
with the CG Team selection process this year (Melissa Martin’s non-selection),
I want nothing more to do with those who were involved,” Rachel told

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Natalie went further. “I believe Melissa
deserved her position in the team but was shafted by the wording of the criteria
(which wasn’t really clear). The team selection for the 2006 Commonwealth Games
was very shady, that’s why the strongest team did not go to the Commonwealth
Games, and not having changed the criteria in a way to prevent this happening
again is the reason I have decided not to make myself available for the team.”

When the Commonwealth Games team was chosen,
Martin was overlooked despite her higher ranking (world number 31), in favour
of Kasey Brown (39) and Dianne Desira (41). The matter went to the court of
arbitration for sport, with Martin’s case unanimously rejected.

Crikey contacted Squash Australia this
morning but CEO Norman Fry was unavailable for comment. The press department, while
available for comment, refused to speak about the issue, instead emailing
Crikey a press release enthusiastically titled “Young Guns Ready To Fire”.

next generation of female squash stars will have their chance to grab the
spotlight when the World Women’s Team’s Championships are held in Edmonton, Canada in
late September,” it begins, confidently.

Despite her non-selection for the
Commonwealth Games team, Melissa Martin seems to be back in favour: “Australian
squash great Melissa Martin will be the Manager/Coach for the (WWWT) and will
be hoping to lead her young charges to further success in the championships.”

It remains to be seen whether Squash Australia’s “Look
Over There!” strategy for managing the conflict will work.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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