Muralitharan and Ali feature in our five best bearded spinners in cricket history

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Cricket has always had a fun relationship with facial hair – who can forget big Merv Hughes’ famous moustache?

Hughes was a fast bowler, but the spinners have never been far behind when it comes to displaying a grizzled face. Here’s a look at the five best bearded spinners.

BISHEN SINGH BEDI

Slow left arm orthodox, played for India from 1966-79 and part of the famous ‘spin quartet’, taking 266 wickets in 67 Tests.

MONTY PANESAR

English slow left arm orthodox spinner who played an even 50 Tests for 167 wickets. A cult hero with fans throughout his career.

MUTTIAH MURALITHARAN

The controversial Sri Lankan right-arm offbreak spinner is the world record holder for Test wickets taking 800 in 133 Tests.

DANIEL VETTORI

The vintage Kiwi took 362 wickets in 113 Tests over a career that stretched from 1997 to 2014. Another slow left arm orthodox.

MOEEN ALI

The latest spin king, the right arm off spinner is just the second player to score 250+ runs and take 20+ wickets in a series.

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International cricket stars of the future: Meet the next Wasim Akram, Lasith Malinga and MS Dhoni

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Star trio: Akram, Malinga, Dhoni.

World cricket is forever waiting for the next gem to be unearthed. And if the ‘next big thing’ brings back memories of an all-time legend, the level of interest rises exponentially.

Here, we take a look at three young cricketers who look set to take the world by storm and compare favorably, in our opinion, to icons of the sport.

They are not big names yet but if they live up to the promise they show in these videos, then anything’s possible.

What do you make of our three picks?

Get in touch on Twitter and via Facebook.

SHAHEEN SHAH AFRIDI – THE NEXT WASIM AKRAM

The 17-year-old fast bowler from the north-western territory of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan is already 6 ft 6 tall and bowls with serious pace.

Indeed, it’s not hard to see why the left-arm quick is being compared to Wasim Akram and Mohammad Amir.

Interestingly, Shaheen was introduced to the game by elder brother Riaz Afridi, who played one Test for Pakistan in 2004.

Last year, Shaheen claimed five wickets in three games during the Asian Cricket Council Under-19 Cup in Sri Lanka – showcasing the pace and bounce he gets from his height.

If the teenager can maintain his fitness levels, it won’t be long before he gets to play for the senior team.

NUWAN THUSHARA – THE NEXT LASITH MALINGA

The subcontinent is famous for producing players who look extraordinarily similar to their role models, be it in the batting or bowling departments.

India opener Virender Sehwag admitted he tried to copy Sachin Tendulkar’s shots even at international level. When Pakistan all-rounder Shoaib Malik started his career, his bowling action was a near perfect copy of that of spin great Saqlain Mushtaq.

And now Sri Lanka have Nuwan Thushara. The 22-year-old fast bowler for the Sinhalese Sports Club bowls with the same slingy action that made Malinga a phenomenon.

Nuwan has the pace, the swing and the yorkers to raise hopes of a fine career. As of now, he has played one first-class game and two T20s, with only two scalps in the shortest format.

GEORGE LAVELLE – THE NEXT MS DHONI

MS Dhoni is a once in a generation player. It can be dangerous to label a 17-year-old ‘the next MSD’ but the pace at which Lanchashire’s George Lavelle is rising through the ranks, it’s difficult not to wonder.

Lavelle is a right-handed batsman and a fine gloveman, who has been turning out regularly for Lancashire 2nd XI this summer.

He was named the Most Valuable player at the 2015 edition of the Bunbury Festival, an annual competition featuring the most promising Under-15 players in England.

In fact, tournament organiser David English named Lavelle in his all-time best Bunbury team, picking him ahead of Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler. His lightning quick stumping for the second XI against Yorkshire would make someone like Dhoni proud.

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Wasim Akram named brand ambassador for 10PL tournament in Sharjah

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Former Pakistan pacer Wasim Akram was yesterday named as the brand ambassador of 10PL which will be played in the UAE later this year.

The second edition of the week-long tennis-ball cricket competition will be held at Sharjah Cricket Stadium from 8-15 December.

One of the sport’s greatest legends Akram, 51, played a key part for his national team, taking more than 900 international wickets in his 18-year career from 1985-2003.

Akram said: “I am delighted to be the ambassador of the 10PL cricket tournament.

“All of us in the subcontinent have grown up playing tennis ball cricket on the streets. Some of us have learnt key tricks that have helped us on the bigger stage as well. This tournament promises to be the perfect platform for raw talents to showcase what they are capable. I am really looking forward to this competition.”

Abdul Latif Khan, chairman, Petromann Events, which is the brainchild of the tournament, is delighted to have Akram, a 1992 World Cup winner, on board.

“It is an absolute honour to have Mr Akram as the brand ambassador of the Indian team,” he said.

“In the coming days we will be unveiling a campaign with Mr Akram to further raise the profile of the tournament.”

Last year’s edition attracted a total of 16 teams and there has already been a lot of demand for the 2017 tournament with nearly 40 sides expressing interest for the available 20 spots.

The event is also expected to attract teams from a number of major corporate companies.

Among the players who are expected to feature in the competition are two former Sri Lankan Test cricketers – Chamara Silva and Thilan Thushara.

It would be the second time ex-internationals will play after former Pakistan wicket-keeper batsman Zulqarnain Haider participated in the inaugural tournament.

With a prize fund of Dh250,000, Khan is confident this year’s competition will be even bigger than 2016.

“This format is very popular in India & Middle East. Last year we showed that there had never been an event of this magnitude held anywhere in the world with such a huge prize money on offer,” he said.

“I am confident that the second edition will reach even bigger heights.”

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