How Australia Used the Beard to Get Back on Top

Brought to you by Betfair

“With a great beard comes great responsibility.” Although Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben didn’t quite say this, if he were living today he most likely would have. We live in a world where the pen is once again stronger than the sword and the beard is better than the clean-shaven. Instead of having to save us from the Green Goblin, Spider Man now defends against Mach Three Turbos and discontenting mothers who are begging their offspring to shave.

For those that are sceptical about the power of the beard two things: one, why are you here, and two, why are you still here? Facial here instills confidence in anyone, and if a man is confident he can just about do anything. Why do you think some of the most beautiful women in the world are with bearded men. It is not because they find the beard attractive – they do but that doesn’t matter – it is because the man now has the confidence to approach these women and woo them with his personality, all the while his beard plays a supporting role, a role that probably would have won it at the 2015 Oscars – oh wait who has a white beard.

The scepticism is still rife in the air. So let us give you a case study to showcase just how facial hair improves your performance.

It has been a pretty rocky road for the Australian cricket team up to now. The side dominated the game for most of the 2000s but once notable players like Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath – the bowler who is currently in trouble for his hunting pictures – Darren Lehmann and Adam Gilchrist retired the form of the Baggy Green diminished. Between the years of 2009-2013 Australia lost The Ashes on three consecutive occasions to their arch rivals England.

However, when England went down Down Under for the 2014 series they were tonked 5-0. The reason was clear, Australia were reaping the benefits of the Movember hangover – many of their players grew facial hair for charity and then realised what they had been missing. Now the side are back where they belong; they currently occupy second place in the Test rankings, first in the ODI rankings and, much to the chagrin of Betfair and the like, practically perennial favourites in the cricket betting

A quick glance at the stats for that series tells you all you need to know about the tremendous benefits of facial hair. Australian pace bowler Mitchell Johnson had been England’s whipping boy whenever they faced him in the past. He struggled that much against England in the past that he wasn’t even included in the Australian squad for the 2013 summer series, the two previous series had seen him take just 35 wickets combined.

Last year, armed with a handlebar moustache that would make any beard aficionado weak at the knees, he went on to take 37 scalps, which is nuts. To average more than seven wickets a game in a five match series is staggering. In fact, it is that good that you feel that Johnson must have been embarking in some satanic ritual that would instil in him this god-like bowling presence. Or perhaps, and much more logically, the facial growth gave him back his confidence, and when confident Johnson is very much the fast-bowling equivalent of Samson.

mitchell johnson 3Image by NAPARAZZI – Mitchell Johnson

Johnson was very much a player that everyone believed could make it to the top, he just never had his head screwed on properly. So is it a coincidence that his return to form coincided with his facial growth? You bet it isn’t. Both require plenty of determination, self-discipline, commitment and practice. In a similar vein to Mr Miyagi training Daniel LaRusso via the “wax on, wax off” approach, Johnson was subconsciously furthering his mental strength – a prerequisite for all bowlers – while all the while grooming.

Mitchell Johnson 2Image by NAPARAZZI – Johnson with someone in his sights

But it wasn’t just Johnson who had some facial hair on show during that Ashes series. David Warner, who had an absolutely torrid time in the UK in the summer of 2013, came back with a vengeance, and a moustache, once those Brits crossed the equator.

David WarnerImage by NAPARAZZI 

While in England in 2013, Warner was involved with an off-field fight with England cricketer Joe Root in Birmingham. Warner was rightly dropped from the playing squad for the first two matches of the series. He did eventually return during the series but as a shell of himself, the fact that he managed to notch up 138 runs in three matches should tell you all you need to know about his form.

Much like Johnson, Warner welcomed the England side to Australia in the very late stages of 2013 with some new facial hair and a new attitude. In all fairness England shouldn’t have bothered coming as Warner was every bit as ruthless as Johnson. The batter chalked up 523 runs in total – he claimed two centuries during the series – more than 200 runs more than England’s most prolific batter Kevin Pietersen.

David Warner 2.pngImage by NAPARAZZIShaving foam to the eye!

What is exceedingly surprising is just how long it took Warner and Johnson to embrace the facial hair. Merv Hughes was one of Australia’s greatest ever bowlers, and what he did he have? You guessed an ingenious bowling action. He also boasted one of the finest works of facial art in the history of cricket, rumours circulated that it was at one point insured for $200,000. There is no beard comparable to that of Merv’s, the thickness, shape and colouring were all spot on, and in Mitchell Johnson his bowling/facial hair legacy lives on. Hughes is currently a contestant on the Australian version of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here, you doubt the lack of shaving equipment to be too much of a problem for Merv. You know, he’s practically feral already.

Merv HughesImage by nic_r  – Merv Hughes

Whereas Johnson is very much the modern-day ‘Swervin Mervyn’, Warner is the embodiment of David Boon, whose moustache served as the inspiration for the current Australian batter. Boon knocked more than 7,000 test runs for the Baggy Greens, whilst Warner has just over 3,000 but has not had facial hair for anywhere near as long. Watch his runs grow in tandem with his facial hair.

David BoonImage by Nagarjun – Shrine to David Boon

Surely this is enough evidence to prove that there is very much a correlation between sporting prowess and facial hair. Johnson and Warner are evoking memories of Hughes and Boon, together they form a dynamite, and albeit hairy combination that is enough to put any team to the sword.

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