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G.O.A.T #18: Azam Khan & Anna Craven-Smith

Over the last month, we have given squash fans the chance to decide the greatest players in squash history as we looked over the achievements and legacies of some of the most recognisable names ever to take to a squash court.

The votes are now in and we will be announcing the results in descending order to until we reveal the official men’s and women’s GOAT.

20th PlaceDon Butcher & Sheila Macintosh
19th PlaceRoshan Khan & Sue Cogswell

In 18th place…

Azam Khan
Nationality: Pakistani/English
British Open Title Wins: 4
British Open Finals: 7

Azam Khan was an influential member of the ‘Khan Dynasty’ that dominated the sport throughout four different decades, lifting four British Open titles to pick up where his older brother, Hashim, left off.

A tennis coach at the Pakistan Air Force officers’ club, Azam was introduced to squash by Hashim at the age of 26, shortly after the older sibling had won his second British open crown, and he proved to be a natural.

His level of ability increased so much that he took on Hashim in the final of the 1954 British Open final, which went all the way to five games before Hashim finally ground out the win in the decider.

Azam also fell to his brother in the finals of the 1955 and 1958 tournaments. Hashim’s withdrawal from the following year’s event gave Azam a platform to make another run at the title and he made no mistake, beating his nephew, Mo Khan, to life the famous trophy for the first time.

A win over Hashim in the semi-finals of the 1960 tournament helped to propel Azam to a second successive British Open crown, beating second cousin Roshan Khan – the father of the great Jahangir – in the decider in just 19 minutes and dropping just a single point in the process.

Two more British Open titles would follow in as many years, while he also added a US Open trophy to his collection. However, an achilles tendon injury in 1962 and the tragic death of his 14-year-old son saw Azam retire from competitive squash.

Aside from an appearance at the National Championships and the Pakistan Open the following year – both of which he won, beating Roshan Khan in the final – Azam settled in the United Kingdom and took over the running of the New Grampians Squash Club in London.

Anna Craven-Smith
Nationality: English
British Open Title Wins: 0
British Open Finals: 3

English player Anna Craven-Smith made it to three British Open finals and was the only player to come close to taking a game off the legendary Heather McKay, who dominated the tournament with 16 successive wins between 1962-1977.

Craven-Smith’s first British Open final in 1965 saw her take just three points against the irrepressible McKay, but she came within a whisker of claiming a game the following year.

Two 9-0 victories for McKay set up what looked set to be an equally one-sided third game but Craven-Smith stepped up and only narrowly lost out to McKay 10-8 on the tie-break.

She came even closer in 1967, losing 10-8 in the second game – again to McKay – and taking six points in the third.

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