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BEARDS ‘n’ BRISTLES… in Cricket

by Bored Guest

The good old beard is subtly reemerging in international cricket. 

Cricketer turned commentator Dean Jones lost his job by calling the devout South African Muslim Hashim Amla a “terrorist”, while several England fans sported fake beards during a Leeds Test to show their admiration for the Indian Origin Mudhsuden Singh (Monty) Panesar. Not long ago, Harbhajan (Bhajji) Singh was labelled a “patit” Sikh by the SGPC as he trimmed his beard. With his “Patka” (pseudo Turban) and next to no facial hair, Bhajji does look like a young lad… so leave him alone! 

There always is some controversy or the other around beards and, as we know, these obviously come in umpteen variations – by true definition, the moment the man hasn’t shaved for more than a day, he is sporting a beard´… or shall we at least call it a bristle?! 

And then, for men, there’s the women angle… as always.

Many women like facial hair but most don’t, so what do the cricketing wives/ girlfriends like about their men with beards ‘n’ bristles?

Now, now, I wonder:  Does it actually tickle them between the legs when the batsmen come 1, 2, 3 or more down?

Virgin, long haired beards are supposed to be the softest but are they fashionable enough – do women want to be seen walking down Bond Street with a guy sporting one of these “Swamiji/ Guru Beards”?

On the other hand, the constantly shaven, short-haired variety of beards do get rather pokey (yeah, we men do know that too!) but is it this variety that women enjoy more? Are these beards chique [and as useful]? 

Whatever, one thing is certain, in the post 9/11 world, the beard is somewhat controversial. Has it become a prominent religious symbol, perceived negatively by many just for that reason? 

Pakistan’s Mohammad Yousuf grew one soon after his conversion from Christianity to Islam to underline his devotion for his new Faith. Earlier, his former teammates Saeed Anwar and Saqlain Mushtaq had also undergone such a facial metamorphosis.

Gong further back in time [because there really is a history of beards in cricket]:
There was a time when the beard epitomized Victorian splendour. W. G. Grace, the colossus of English cricket, was as popular for his brilliant game as for his long, bushy beard. Back in the 1890s, Australian speedster Ernest Jones once delivered a ball that went through Grace’s beard. The latter, not at all pleased, asked him, “What do you think you’re at, Jonah?” The apology was prompt: “Sorry, Doctor, she slipped.” One wonders what the burly Grace would have done to the other Jones (Dean) had the Aussie called him a terrorist?!
In Grace’s days, there were other bearded cricketers too, such as England’s Alfred Shaw and Australia’s Harry Boyle and George Bonner. 

The beard virtually disappeared from cricket with the death of Grace in 1915. It resurfaced in the 1960s with the emergence of two of India’s finest spinners: Bishan Singh Bedi and Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, the latter lovingly called ‘Chandru’. However, it was in the next two decades when unshaven, rugged looks became trendy again. Several top cricketers grew a beard for a while not because of their religion but only to make a style statement.
England had Ian Botham, Mike Brearley and Mike Gatting, while for Australia there were Greg Chappell and Allan Border. The West Indian “beard brigade” included Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall and Vivian Richards. Pakistan had Wasim Raja and Zaheer Abbas, while the Indian representative was Chetan Sharma (Sikhs Maninder Singh, Balwinder Sandhu and Navjot Sidhu kept a beard for obvious reasons). 

In the 1990s, the clean-shaven “Gillette look” became more than predominant. Pacers Courtney Walsh and Curtley Ambrose, however, occasionally preferred to have a short beard. Among today’s Caribbean bowlers, Corey Collymore has kept the “tradition of beards” alive. 
Today, Danniel Vettori sports a beard more often than not. Even the little master-blaster from Mumbai, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar always has a 3-day beard because it’s the only thing that makes him look his age! 

In contemporary cricket, the beard or bristles are there to stay.


We thank Vikramdeep Johal (The Tribune Chandigarh) for the idea. More was added to the article and it was re-edited by Ajoy Eric Lal.


Anonymous said...

This is about the beard and the ladies:

""Despite complaining that it looks unkempt and feels rough to touch, the unshaven look on a man is actually a turn-on for 41 per cent of women"-

straight point said...

bristling post... :)

Anil Singh said...

Very interesting write-up.

Sujan Rao said...

Good research I should say.