ESSEX pair Peter Barker and Daryl Selby became the victims of two giant-killing acts at the World Squash Championships in Qatar this week as the form book was turned upside down.
Barker, the world number eight player, crashed to Australian Cameron Pilley, the world No.20, in a brutal 86-minute second-round encounter, while injury-hit Selby was felled by South African Steve Coppinger in another Titatic battle.
The defeats will come as a blow to the Essex duo who were looking to finish the year on a high, following their medal-winning performances for England at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland.
Both players were in good form going into the World Championships, with Barker having won the $50,000 PSA Bluenose Classic in Canada two weeks ago. He beat Selby in the semi-finals before taking out Colombia’s Miguel Angel Rodriguez in the final.
But Barker’s hopes in Doha were dashed as the rangy Australian Pilley stepped up through the gears to earn an impressive victory.
Pilley looked in control of the contest after racing out to a two-game lead but Barker fought back and took advantage of a string of errors to level the match and force a decider, but it was the Australian who prevailed in a tough physical match-up, winning 2-10, 11-6, 9-11, 6-11, 11-5.
Meanwhile, Selby, hampered by a troublesome back injury, suffered a shock first round exit at the hands of Coppinger, as the physical powerhouse came through an epic 3-2 encounter.
Coppinger watched Selby claw back a two-game deficit but managed to hold out in the fifth and deciding game to earn an impressive victory.