September 25, 2009

The good, the bad, the hairy

Andrew Hughes

Jesse does the seventies © Getty Images

Let there be no doubt, cricket is men’s work. Women may be able to bat, bowl and field as well as the lesser sex, but there is one cricket skill in which, by and large, men remain pre-eminent: the rapid production of facial hair. And one man in particular, one selfless hero, has just raised cricket’s masculinity bar a notch higher. That’s right. Jesse Ryder has grown a moustache.

At the moment, it is hard to tell which way Jesse’s ‘tache will go. It’s something of a mini-Boon, but by the time the Champions Trophy comes to an end, he may be walking around with a full Zapata under his nose. Or perhaps he might go in for the waxed Hercule Poirot, or possibly even a Salvador Dali. I’ll keep you posted.

Of course, as we all know, the moustache is the nuclear option when it comes to demonstrating one’s masculinity and it brings its own particular dangers. Admirable though it is, this extra infusion of hairy-lipped testosterone into the New Zealand squad could have repercussions. Indeed, I’ve suspected for a long time that we may be approaching a fashion black hole. Consider, if you will, Jacob Oram’s hair. At what point does deliberately messy become just plain scruffy? Before you know it, people will be sprouting sideburns, shirts will remain unfastened and we will be back in the dark, hairy, and above all ugly, seventies; a decade when even attractive cricketers looked like they’d spent their close season living in a ditch.

It was precisely in order to uphold the aesthetic purity of the modern game that I recently launched my latest campaign. I am proposing that tattoos are made illegal under Level 4 of the ICC Code of Conduct. We all know that there are only three kinds of people on whom tattoos look good: Maoris, Bronze Age tribesmen and 19th century sailors. On everyone else they look like the scribblings of someone who tried to cheat in their maths exam, failed and then forgot to wash off the evidence. It can surely be no coincidence that the two biggest troublemakers in international cricket - Andrew Flintoff and Brendon McCullum - are covered in inky dribble

If we don’t make a stand then commentators will be next, and before we know where we are, Nasser Hussain’s pitch report will end with him rolling up his trouser leg to show us something deeply personal. Someone needed to draw an imaginary line in the metaphorical sand. That person was me.

The ICC tend not to answer my emails these days, so I decided to go to the top. The modern globetrotting cricketer is a surly sort of cove and not easy to bring to heel. I needed the help of the only man they would listen to. I needed Lalit Modi.

As you might imagine, His Modiness is a tricky man to get hold of, but I find that if you grab him firmly by the BlackBerry, he eventually stops struggling. He was sympathetic to my request, but replied that he was in no position to take a firm stance on body art. To my mounting horror, he then began to slowly remove his shirt to reveal an enormous, slightly hairy, chest-size Lalit Modi portrait in ink and flesh.

I haven’t been able to sleep ever since.


Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Florence on (September 6, 2011, 15:21 GMT)

Now I feel stupid. That's cleread it up for me

Posted by a-unit on (October 15, 2009, 2:44 GMT)

Brendon Mccullum is part Maori, so according to your article he looks good with a tattoo.

Posted by Mo Stach on (September 28, 2009, 16:17 GMT)

Bohemian masculinity is here again..... There is so much of an androgynous Stuart Broad that one can digest. And as for some suggestions that one should be well-groomed while representing the country, well, there are always beauty pageants to care of that.

Posted by Scoob on (September 26, 2009, 3:45 GMT)

who cares what they look like, just enjoy the cricket

Posted by Alastor on (September 26, 2009, 1:36 GMT)

Clive, with Ricky Ponting you get the 2 day growth AND the chewing with the mouth open, with a bonus of the delightful habit of spitting on one's hands four times an over (or is it every ball?). I actually don't have a problem with chewing gum, but I don't want to SEE the gum! Why is his gum alway hanging out of his mouth? I am a little concerned that someone is slowly trying to return us to 70's fashions, the shirts do seem to be gradually getting tighter... lets hope the pants do not follow. Jesse has obviously seen this return to the 70's coming and wants to be ready to clean your pool.

Posted by Campbell on (September 26, 2009, 0:07 GMT)

Since when was Brendon McCullum a trouble maker? I don't think I've ever seen him do anything wrong, let alone the only thing he troubles is bowlers who enjoy bowling short and wide, because 99% of the time they are crushed for fat sixes.

I don't think there is anything wrong with tattoos as long as they hold some significance to the player who has them, say a special date etc.

Posted by Brat on (September 25, 2009, 23:40 GMT)

Jesse Ryder's mo looks like a dead hamster. It is just WRONG. Seriously, if that's an example of kiwi masculinity, I'm almost tempted to become a lesbian.

Posted by Tim on (September 25, 2009, 22:39 GMT)

How could we forget Obi-Wan Vettori with his Jedi-esque beard. Over the course of a Test match, he starts clean shaven, then by day 5, looks like a he's just emerged from the deserts of Tatooine! His nickname should really be the Bearded Warrior.

Posted by Jay on (September 25, 2009, 21:32 GMT)

why does Jesse think so highly of his nose that he needs it underlined? making a point to the opposition or the doorman on duty in a loo?

Posted by Andrew Hughes on (September 25, 2009, 20:27 GMT)

Thank you all for your comments. First of all, apologies for implying that Mr McCullum was some kind of dangerous hoodlum. The troublemaking I had in mind was of a contractual nature - I did not mean to imply that he is the type to get all liqoured-up at a nightclub and start throwing his weight around. That is certainly not the sort of behaviour one associates with the gentlemen who inhabit the Land of the Long White Cloud.

Rob, you have pierced right to the heart of the matter. I was a mere child during the seventies, indeed, lived a fair portion of it with neither cultural awareness nor adequate bowel control. I have, however, seen cricket videos from the era and they are not pretty.

Martin - you have uncovered the truth. My entire article is revealed as an utter fraud, a lie, a contrived and fanciful piece of nonsense. I would be indebted to you if you would continue to carefully scrutinise my offerings and keep me honest over the weeks ahead.

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Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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