I was watching the Swiss open MS final a few weeks ago btw Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei, sitting comfortably on my sofa rooting for LCW. Gillian Clark in her usual impeccable English and fluid commentary, complimenting LCW's stamina,fitness and footwork and Lin Dan's expolsiveness and ability to make his shots count. Then during the 11 point break, the screen showed Misbun Sidek giving advice to LCW and Gillian Clark said:- "There's Misbun Sidek, Lee's coach, a great player himself.......". I almost fell out of my sofa in tears when I heard the compliment. For me, Misbun Sidek was the greatest Malaysian Singles player of his generation but I speak as a biasness of a Malaysian. I have never dared put him in the ranks of his non Malaysian contempories of Han Jian, Liem Swee King, Luan Jin, Yang Yang , Icuk Sugiarto, Prakash Padukone Morten Frost all of whom havewon better silver ware than he did. Amongst my friends of chinese descent in Malaysia during the 80s, they never look to Misbun as a great player for their heroes were the Chinese MS players and the issue of race always clouded their mind. So i was always alone. But as I have remembered the commentary of those players I have mentioned, they had all feared Misbun Sidek esp during the years of 82,83 and 84. He was a maverick and unpredictable. Misbun Sidek was the eldest of the Sidek siblings. A badminton players factory was hidden away in the rural Malaysian district of Banting, Where Haji Sidek set out his plan to produce badminton champions amongst his children. He taught and trained his children badminton in their backyard with no state suppport and with a few chickens running across the makeshift court. Soon his sons were spotted by Khoo Teng Yuen, a BAM coach who transferred them to a famous school in Kuala Lumpur where he based. Misbun spent a few years training. His talent shown internationally when he, at 19 partnered his brother Razif 18 to reach the semi finals of the WC in 1980. Then in 1981, he defeated Liem Swee King in the Sea games. Nobody taught much of the victory and everyone thought it was a fluke. Then in the same year, an invitational match, he also beat the legendary Parkash Pradukone. At a time when the Badminton world was putting their attention to the coming Chinese onslaught in world MS, Misbun's triumph was just a single blip in the radar. And the blip was comfirmed when Misbun unexpectaly lost to Steve Braddely of England in 1991 Thomas Cup opening round. In 1982, Misbun was embroiled with a quarelled with his head coach Tan Yee Khan. Misbun was not happy with the way Tan's method and he went out of the training camp to train alone. The Malaysian badminton fans were split along communal lines it was perceived unjustifiably that Misbun had refused to train under a Coach of Chinese descent and the Malaysian Chinese did not endear to this pudbanciuos young Man. but it was not race, it was traning method rightly or wrongly Misbun did not like the training not the race of his coach as revealed by Eddy Choong a decade later. In 1982 World Cup, Misbun showed what he was capable of, He defeated Morten Frost the AE champ in the early group matches which included Li Mao. In the Semi finals, he defeated Prakash Padukone. Whereas Liem SweeKing defeated Han Jian to set up a final match. In that final Misbun showed all the classic positive hall marks of the Misbun game, deception as well as the negative, lack of stamina and inability to handle pressure. His game is characterise by stout defence, deceptive writs play, delayed strokes that catches opponents of guard and his cross court half smash. It was a delight to watch before the coming of another Master of deception Zhao Jian Hua. Altough defeated by Liem despite leading 10-1 at the 3rd game, Misbun name in international tournament have arrived. He won some smaller tournaments and through pout 1982 and 83 defeated Prakash, Morten, Luan Jin, Han Jian. In the World grand Prix in Jakarta 1983, he defeated Icuk the reigning WC and Prakash to come in 3rd after Luan Jin and Morten. His career ranking high was No2 in 1983. However, his maverick style and character on Court begin to undo his potential. His dyed his hair blonde, became a full professional. But within 6 months his sponsorship contract was withdrawn when he return a few insipid performance often losing to lower rank opponents. Despite that, Han Jian who in one of his column to the Star when he coached Malaysia said that Misbun had the best shooting lob and cross court half smash amongst the top players Han Jian had played with. He had his fans outside Malaysia esp in India and Europe where they prefer the calculated stroke play and wristy deception artfully done rather than the explosive putting down of the shuttle by the chinese MS. However by 1986, misbun was a spent force. However, 1988 Thomas Cup semifinals MS match with Icuk. Misbun took one last chance to show his mettle. In the 2nd set, he outplayed in strokes that saw Icuk clutching at his waist after every point as Misbun was making him run back and forth across the Court. like many of his great matches, he did not win but that match was the rallying call to his teamates to beat indonesia for the 1st time in Malaysian Badminton history(the Victory in 1967 didnt count as it was by default). So he was not the greatest, but was he a great player?