Saturday, 18 December 2010

Beards v Moustaches: which is better?

Cricket has a long history of facial furniture. Neatly cropped beards and moustaches are always something to be admired, but which is better? Only one way to find out.


1. Ramiz Raja
Always a well-groomed man, Raja favours a thin goatee which has acquired a dusting of grey as years advance. A talented opening batsman, he never really got the Test runs he ought to have done, but with a luxuriant coiffure mated to that pencil-line beard meant he always looked stylish.
Beard rating: 6

2. Saeed Anwar
Pakistan opener who held the highest ODI score for a long time with 194 until a certain Sachin Tedulkar upstaged him. Made 4000 Test runs at better than 45, all whilst sporting a beard like a rhodedendron bush.
Beard rating: 9

3. Sir Vivian Richards
The Master Blaster used his bat as a destructive weapon and a closely cropped, neatly trimmed beard as his only protection.
Beard rating: 7

4. Hashim Amla
Nothing on top, no moustache, but a massive shrub on his chin, Amla is a very modern beard-wearer. An unfortunate comparison by Dean Jones led to his sacking as a TV pundit who, we can only imagine, is a big fan of Four Lions.
Beard rating: 10

5. Mohammed Yousuf
If Amla modelled his beard on anybody's, it's Yousuf. Formerly Yousuf Youhana, the beard emerged only after a conversion to Islam. Pre-beard, Yousuf averaged in the low- to mid-forties. Post-beard, it's high 50s, proving beyond doubt that Islam is a force for good in the world.
Beard rating: 10

6. WG Grace
The original and undoubtedly the best. The Doctor was cricket's first superstar, though it's reckoned that beard fans were equal in number at games to cricket afficionados. But behind that beard lay the dark heart and mind of a cheat, a marketeer and a publicist. Beware people who write their own legend.
Beard rating: 11

6. Ian Botham
A clean shaven young lad burst onto the scene in the mid-seventies, but it was only when Botham developed the trademark beard that he hit the heights of international cricket. Never the most flamboyant beard, but his whiskery trademark added effortless cool to his brutal batting.
Beard rating: 7

7. Jeff Dujon
As keeper to the great West Indies side of the 1980s, Dujon became the first superstar stumper. With that battery of quicks at the other end, thumping 90-95mph deliveries into his gloves all day, he had the hardest hands in the world which probably made shaving a problem. Consequently, a neatly bushy beard sprouted from his lower jaw.
Beard rating: 7

8. Malcolm Marshall
When he was pegging balls down at your head at around 95mph, you could be forgiven for being struck by the neatness of the trim with a slight hint of silver. Classy stuff from the quick man.
Beard rating: 8

9. Michael Holding
Whispering Death is one of the all-time great sporting nicknames. Loping in off his run which seemed to start on the boundary fence, he glided into the stumps like a well-sharpened razor across a stubbly face. That's something Holding clearly had no time for.
Beard rating: 6

10. Mike Hendrick
Hendrick's 30 Tests for England came at a great time for beards - between 1974 and 1981. He took 87 wickets in that time at under 26 apiece all the while looking like a spare guitarist from Fairport Convention.
Beard rating: 9

11. Saqlain Mushtaq
Throughout his career, as Saqlain's hairline receded, the beard extended to the point at which it extended a good half a foot beyond the end of his chin.
Beard rating: 9


1. Gordon Greenidge
Beware a limping Greenidge, went the adage. If he was limping, he'd tend to crash everything to the fence instead. As if to further wind up the former colonialists, he did it all with a vestigial handlebar soup-strainer that wouldn't have looked out of place in an officer's mess.
Tache rating: 7

2. Ravi Shastri
As clipped and stylish as his dulcet tones, Shastri's moustache went like a tracer bullet across his upper lip throughout his career.
Tache rating: 7

3. David Boon
The short Tasmanian had a broom head for a moustache which served to filter out the worst of his favoured brands of Australian canned piss.
Tache rating: 10

4. Allan Border
While annoying the hell out of generations of England fans and players, Border opted for the squadron leader style facial furniture which can be the only thing that distracted Mike Gatting to play that reverse sweep in the 1987 World Cup.
Tache rating: 6

5. Clive Lloyd
Lloyd's moustache drooped down around the sides of his mouth to give him a hangdog expression which was only furthered by his languid batting style. It belied an inner calm and steely determination matched only by the extreme power he wielded with the willow.
Tache rating: 9

6. Lord Hawke
Lincolnshire-born, but Yorkshire's greatest ever captain, presiding over a glorious decade before WWII. His moustache was like anything bowled on his pads; beautifully clipped.
Tache rating: 8

7. Sir Richard Hadlee
Possibly the only New Zealander to be in the all-time-great category, Hadlee's pencil moustache stuck rigidly to upper lip throughout his career and into retirement where it lives happily today.
Tache rating: 7

8. Jack Russell
Russell's top-lip topiary was as raggedy and idiosyncratic as the player himself. Disorganised, shabby, typically English eccentric, his batting style and moustache were a perfect complement to one another.
Tache rating: 9

9. Robin Jackman
Born in India, wintered in Rhodesia, it was obvious that Jackman would play for England. A stocky pace bowler, his four Tests came clean shaven, but he's developed a lovely soup strainer in retirement where he's to be found in the commentary box taking on the mannerisms of a favourite uncle.
Tache rating: 8

10. Merv Hughes
The fat bus driver's trademark moustache drooped prodigiously down both sides to create a boomerang effect. Terrifying when he was playing, he's maintained it in retirement where it looks a bit of a throwback to an age when men were men.
Tache rating: 10

11. Dennis Lillee
Probably the inspiration for Hughes and a whole generation of moustachioed Australians, Lillee was in many ways a pioneer of extravagant whiskeriness. The fastest bowler of his generation - and that was up against some fierce competition - the tache flapping in the breeze as he hurtled in was enough to put most batters off before he'd even reached his delivery stride.
Tache rating: 10

In the final tally, it ends Beards 99-91 Moustaches. Definitive proof if ever it existed that beards are better.

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