Then & Now: Bats and beards

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The Independent Online
1865-1910: The dramatically bearded W G Grace (who scored more than 5,000 runs and took nearly 3,000 first-class wickets in his 45-year career) dominates English cricket.

'In the celebrated oil-portrait that was painted in 1888 by Archibald Stuart Wortley and now hangs in the Long Room at Lord's you see W G in characteristic stance. His cheeks are bronzed and his beard dark and busy . . .

'You had only to look at W G's brown, hairy, massive forearms to see the power which he could put into a stroke . . .

'He loved, and chastised, the fast bowlers and their medium-fast colleagues, though he greatly respected George Freeman and Tom Emmett. Morely was a fierce fast bowler, too, but said of W G after being sadly hammered by him on a rough pitch at Trent Bridge, 'He hit me for a couple of sixers off his eyebrows and then I bowled him through his flaming whiskers]'

'Though his technique was masterly, he did not surround it with a smoke-screen of pretentious nonsense. When asked about the best way to play a particularly awkward ball, he replied thoughtfully: 'I should say you ought to put the bat against the ba . . . all.' '

(from A A Thomson's 'The Great Cricketer', 1957).

March, 1992: Ted Dexter, chairman of the England selectors, announced that The Test and County Cricket Board wanted the England players to improve their appearance. 'There is a modern fashion for designer stubble and some people believe it to be very attractive, but it is aggravating to others and we will be looking at the whole question of people's facial hair,' said Mr Dexter.

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