Since I don’t subscribe to any of the cricket TV channels, I rely on ESPN Cricinfo for my cricket news. Recently, however, I was visiting in L.A and got to see the India- England test match on TV. What a surprise to see almost all the Indian players with beards! Even some of the formerly clean shaven lads were sporting some serious facial shrubbery. Not like Moeen Ali or Hashim Amla whose beards come down to the middle of their chests but nevertheless pretty thick.
Now, anyone has a right to grow a beard but these were scruffy and, in my eyes, unattractive. I have a beard myself, but it is short and I try to keep it well trimmed. I am at a loss to understand why the Indian team has gone in for these abominations.
I know that Muslims do favor beards but, other than Mohammed Shami, I don’t think there are any Muslims on the current team. (Even the Pakistani team, which is predominantly Muslim has only three or four bearded players). So if that is not the reason, what is?
One theory that I have heard, a ridiculous one, is that these players grow long beards to make themselves unattractive to the opposite sex . This , supposedly, is to enable them to concentrate wholly on their cricket. Poppycock! Other than Virat Kohli, I don’t think anyone could be so dedicated to the game. And Kohli has a film star girlfriend. Other theories are 1) that it is a fashion statement and 2) that it is Kohli’s diktat, meant to ensure solidarity, an us-against-the world attitude. None of these theories hold any water.
Myself, I think it is a good luck charm. Recently, the Indian team has been on a roll, thanks to some impressive all-round performances and some spin-friendly pitches. Having won the series against New Zealand they are now up 3-0 on England though the 5th Test is presently interestingly poised. It could be that they don’t want to jinx themselves by shaving. It has happened in other sports, whether ice-hockey or tennis or football.
If that is indeed the reason, I am in the horns of a dilemma. One the one hand, I can’t bring myself to root against India but, on the other hand, I don’t want to see the Indian team take the field looking like eleven Hashim Amlas.