Mitchell Johnson and Cricket's Facial Hair Oscars

Alex TelferFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2014

Mitchell Johnson and Cricket's Facial Hair Oscars

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    Scott Barbour/Getty Images

    It has been a vintage year for facial hair in cricket, culminating in Mitchell Johnson and his intimidating moustache demolishing England's almost completely clean-shaven unit single-handedly.

    So, here at Bleacher Report we have decided to throw the mother of all parties—or, more accurately, construct a brief slideshow—to celebrate the best and worst beards, moustaches, sideburns and other bits which don't even have a name, in the sport.

    Read on to see who will have to prepare an excruciating acceptance speech and who will be drowning their sorrows in free champagne.

    For those who have trouble identifying different types of facial hair, here is a helpful guide.

Coolest Facial Hair: Chris Gayle

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    Aijaz Rahi/Associated Press

    Let's face it. Even if Chris Gayle was spotted trainspotting at Clapham Junction wearing a faded fleece jacket, listening to a Nickelback album and drinking a mug of Horlicks, he would still be cool.

    And with the latest instalment of the Indian Premier League imminent, expect to see a lot more of the West Indian master blaster in the coming months.

    Honourable mention: Shikhar Dhawan

Best Newcomer: Nasir Hossain

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    A.M. Ahad/Associated Press

    The best newcomer award goes to Bangladesh's Nasir Hossain, who has backed up his featherweight soup-strainer with long, manicured sideboards that eventually connect with a goatee to complete an anchor-type effect.

    Averaging over 42.00 with the bat after 14 Tests, the young all-rounder could play a vital role in his country's cricketing growth.

    Honourable mention: Chris Jordan

     

     

Best Overseas Facial Hair: Daniel Vettori

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    Brett Hemmings/Getty Images

    If it wasn't for the all-consuming, world-class beard that Daniel Vettori has somehow sprouted from nowhere, he would still look like the 18-year-old kid who made his New Zealand debut in 1997.

    To be honest, the ageless Kiwi all-rounder has experimented with various shades of designer stubble for a while now. But it's only recently he's gone for what's known in the trade as full bear.

    Honourable mention: Hashim Amla. One of the all-time great beards, but the South African run machine misses out this year.

Best British Facial Hair: Monty Panesar

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Despite a difficult year on and off the field, Monty Panesar stands out as a lush, luxurious oasis in the middle of an arid beardless England cricket team desert.

    In 2006, the spinner narrowly edged out Fidel Castro to claim the coveted "Beard of the Year" title, and Monty is still going strong today.

    Honourable mention: Matt Prior

Mystery Facial Hair: Sunil Narine

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    Aijaz Rahi/Associated Press

    It's a slightly wispy action with a hint of mystery that is very hard to categorise. And that's just Sunil Narine's facial hair. Let's not even get into the little tufted mohawk that sits on top of the spinner's head.

    But seriously, Narine is one of the world's best T20 bowlers and has claimed 137 wickets at an average of 15.78.

    Honourable mention: Tillekaratne Dilshan

Oddest Facial Hair: Peter Siddle

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    Is that a shadow? Or a small patch of beard known among facial hair enthusiasts as a soul patch? Only Australian bowler Peter Siddle will know. Better photographic evidence is here.

    Despite taking 16 wickets at an average of 24.12, the paceman was recently dropped from the team for the latest Test against South Africa.

    Honourable mention: Hamid Hassan of Afghanistan

Lifetime Achievement Award: Merv Hughes

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    TOM HEVEZI/Associated Press

    If it isn't broke, don't fix it. And if you can make it seem even more out of control, go for it. This award goes to Mervyn Hughes for his outstanding loyalty and refusal to buckle in the face of fashion.

    Honourable mentions: W.G. Grace and Mike Gatting.

Best Supporting Beard of the Year: Ravindra Jadeja

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    Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

    This is a difficult award to categorise, but this all-round effort from India's Ravindra Jadeja deserves some sort of recognition.

    In the past, the Chennai Super King man has experimented with a variety of textures and styles before settling on the above creation. And judging by his Asia Cup form, it could be a keeper.

    Honourable mention: Shahid Afridi

Worst Facial Hair of the Year: David Warner

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    Tertius Pickard/Associated Press

    What started out as a Mickey Pearce-esque pencil moustache soon morphed into something from Deliverance and helped David Warner to terrorise England in the Ashes.

    Another example of the 'stache that most likely played a part in forcing the traumatised Graeme Swann into retirement is here.

    Of course, it all started out as an effort to support the Movember cause, so fair play to Warner and the rest of the Aussies for raising awareness of this worthwhile cause.

Best Facial Hair of the Year: Mitchell Johnson

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    Morne de Klerk/Getty Images

    This is the one they've all been waiting for. The highly sought after Best Facial Hair of the Year award goes to...Mitchell Johnson.

    There should be no link between ability and facial hair, but the presence of a sensational Fu Manchu moustache seems to give the 32-year-old Johnson a boost.

    Having being previously written off due to loss of form and confidence, the left-arm pace demon has re-emerged over the last 12 months to become the world's premier fast bowler.

    And even though the moustache was originally just for Movember, Johnson still sports it to this day, and it has become part of his menacing presence. 

    Honourable mention: Moeen Ali's recent international debut has increased the spotlight on his skills and glorious flowing beard. ESPN Cricinfo shed more light on both of those factors.