The world of squash is mourning the passing of Dicky Rutnagur, the highly-respected Indian-born British-based journalist who covered squash, badminton and cricket for the Daily Telegraph and died in London last week, aged 82.
“It is a sad day for the squash family as Dicky was one of the first journalists to get squash into the broad-sheets,” said PSA CEO Alex Gough. “We were lucky to have someone who had such great knowledge and true insight into the game. He was already missed at events over the past few years and our thoughts go to his family at this sad time.”
Jahangir Khan, the record ten-time British Open champion from Pakistan said: “He was a wonderful man. I knew him since when I started playing junior events in the UK. He was greatly respected by everyone and he knew squash so well – and his news were so enjoyable and to the point. He was actually an all-round writer and I have read many of his news on other sports in the Telegraph. My father and I had worked on a book with him called UNLIMITED KHAN in Pakistan, published by OXFORD PRESS. It is a great loss to Journalism. May his soul rest in peace.”
Two-time world champion Nick Matthew, the current world No4 from England, added: “It is with great sadness that I read about Dicky’s passing. Along with Colin McQuillan, Martin Bronstein and Richard Eaton, Dicky was one of the first journalists I spoke to upon my breakthrough in the game. I was always astounded by Dicky’s knowledge, passion and enthusiasm for the game. He had a unique insight and loved the history of the game yet embraced the future. Best wishes to Dicky’s family.”
Four-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Peter Nicol said: “I remember meeting Dicky at the very start of my career as a professional player and always loved his straightforward but friendly style of interviewing. He could get away with asking something that was on the verge of being controversial or he would be forgiven for getting upset and frustrated and clearly showing his feelings, all because he was the one doing it! As I got to know Dicky better, sitting with him or having a quick chat, there was always an interesting story (mostly about cricket or squash) which he told with a passion and enthusiasm that shone through. I’m sad to know that Dicky is no longer with us but I’m smiling right now remembering him and his larger than life personality.”
Andrew Shelley, CEO of the World Squash Federation, said: “In an era that started decades before the reporting world changed with the advent of internet, Dicky Rutnagur was already a doyen of the craft. His encyclopaedic knowledge of players and championships, his direct and accurate mode of reportage – whether it be squash or his other love cricket – led Dicky to be held in the highest esteem by players, promoters and his publications alike. When you added to that his ability as a raconteur, a wicked sense of humour and a penchant for practical jokes, he was the best of company. Wonderful memories, wonderful man.”
Ted Wallbutton, a former WSF CEO, added: “Dicky Rutnagur was truly a ‘one off’. His Squash reporting was always flawlessly accurate, infinitely readable and usually contained a reflection of his quirky and endearing sense of humour. His many stories of Fleet Street life in its hey-day were memorable and he knew how to work the system to his advantage. When filing copy he usually managed to encourage his sub-editor to use a headline he had embedded in the story.
“I well remember one triumph he relished when, reporting from the InterCity National Championships at Brunel’s old Bristol Temple Meads Station, he had his Daily Telegraph story of an overwhelming victory by Neil Harvey headed ‘Harvey’s Bristol Cream’.
“Life with Dicky in the Press Room was never dull, occasionally a telephone would be projected into orbit when he vented his disapproval of the speed of service being given and his unique style of dictation of copy to sub-editors was always worth hearing! But his heart was truly in the right place and his love of sport, particularly Cricket and Squash, made him a tremendous companion. Dicky will be missed greatly by all those who were privileged to know him and enjoy his huge personality.”
US-based John Nimick, the PSA Executive Director from 1994-1999, recalls: “Dicky had a great passion for the sport, equally matched by his heroic defence of journalists’ rights and standards. He was as quick to frame a modern player’s talents and shortcomings in the context of his predecessors as he was tell an event organizer what made a journalist’s work easier to do and why it was important. And he was usually right on both fronts!”
Malcolm Willstrop, coach to numerous leading players including world number ones Lee Beachill and James Willstrop, adds: “Dicky Rutnagur belonged to a journalistic age when quality writers wrote about the sports they loved; in Dicky’s case cricket and squash. I well remember him bemoaning the fact that surrounding him on a cricket tour were a bunch of so-called journalists who were there solely to conjure up stories, such as the infamous Mike Gatting affair.
“Dicky was not only a fine journalist, he was a lovely, gentle, humorous man. He will be happy that he was true to the sports he loved. I remember him with fondness.”
Picture show Dicky Rutnagur receiving the ‘Services to Squash’ award at the 2007 World Squash Awards