It can’t be easy being Hashim Amla.
He’s got to deal with tin-eared commentators calling him a terrorist; having his personality, batting skills and even other less singular aspects of his appearance (he’s got very nice eyes, for instance) largely ignored, and – even assuming heavy patronage of this place – what must surely be a real bitch of a grooming routine to undertake in the mornings. (Let’s not even start on the secret, bitter rivalry that I am certain would exist between him and Mohammad “MoYo” Yousuf for the title of Greatest Cricketing Beard were it not a totally imaginary award that I just made up right now.)
The beard, one might argue, seems to be far more trouble to Hashim than it’s worth, despite how important it is to him for a combination of religious and cultural reasons.
But Hashim isn’t the possessor of the only noteworthy beard in international cricket – the others might not be as spectacular, or luxuriant, but they’re attached to some pretty significant individuals. Kiwi Übermensch Daniel Vettori has sported one for a while now; ranging from ‘scruffy-librarian’ to ‘antisocial lumberjack’ in length and appearance depending, I assume, on his mood, the conjunctions of Mercury and Venus or possibly just whether or not he slept through the alarm that particular day. Mohammad Yousuf, as has already been mentioned, has a chin-shrub to rival Hashim’s. And Dutch-Australian Renaissance-man Dirk Nannes is usually seen with nifty European-style facial topiary.
The other thing these men have in common is the fact that they’re all, usually, pretty damn spectacular on the pitch (not always in the field, though. Sorry, MoYo, I calls it like I sees it.) I’m not saying that beards have the Samson-like ability to grant their wearers exceptional cricketing skill and/or matchwinning ability, but consider this: on his return from Achilles tendon surgery, the usually clean-shaven Kevin Pietersen and his natty Malevolent-18th-Century-Marquis-style goatee almost blasted England to a series win against Pakistan in Dubai.
Then, more recently, in the opening T20 of Australia’s New Zealand tour, the hosts were thumped by 6 wickets. This is what Daniel Vettori looked like at the toss, still cheerful despite the heightened risk of sunburn awaiting him in the field…
…and here’s Dirty Dirk Nannes, who took two wickets at 5.50 in a victorious cause.
Draw your own conclusions.
(Not to further bias anyone, but what other explanation could Wayne Parnell, a young man of more-than-average good looks, have for persisting with this? Ain’t because of any favours it’s doing him in the attractiveness stakes, that’s for damn sure.)