The Week That Was...July 24 - 30 July 30, 2006

Spin, doctors and changes in fortune

Jenny Thompson looks back at the week ending July 30, 2006

Shane Warne: the latest book is a bit of a blow © Getty Images

Spinning yarns Warnie crops up so often in this column we could rename it The Warne That Was. Only this time it's not his fault. An unauthorised biography has just been released (which we shan't name) which yabbers on about his private life and recycles many of the better-known stories of Warne's extra-curricular activities. The writer apparently even hired a private detective to dig into Warne's life, which will please Warne no end. "I don't like it how people can do books on you," Warne announced in June. "Anyone can write a book on anyone, I don't like that law. I don't like that people can do things about your life without consent, I don't think that's fair." Simone Warne certainly doesn't either - she is preparing to sue the writer for his book which includes claims that her husband is a sex machine who has bedded more than 1000 women.

A doctor and a detective Is there no end to Ricky Ponting's talents? Not content with captaining Australia really quite well he's also, apparently, something of a medic. While official England fitness reports suggest that Michael Vaughan and Simon Jones are most likely to miss this winter's Ashes, Doctor Ponting begs to differ. "It's a long time to get over any sort of injury," he insisted, reaching for his medical bag and half-moon glasses. "You've got to remember those guys have been ruled out a long time ago. There's still a few months to go before the series." As he made this announcement, he then donned his deerstalker hat, started puffing on his pipe, and added: "I'm pretty sure they will want Vaughan and Jones here if they can get them here." No s**t, Sherlock.

Speaking of obvious statements, Shoaib Akhtar turning out for a third division Birmingham league club side next week was described by the opposition captain Matthew Tilt as "a bit of an unexpected development". Shoaib, who is trying to regain match fitness for the fourth Test, will play for Berkswell thanks to a connection with their skipper Dominic Ostler, a former team-mate of Shoaib's at Warwickshire. "We are not paying Shoaib to play for us," Ostler confirmed, "and there is certainly no sponsored car. But we might be prepared to waive the £7.50 tea money."

Thandi Tshabalala - laidback... and enjoyed his ride (eventually) © Getty Images

Travel sick(-and-tired)ness Now, we know players have to undertake some pretty tough travelling demands, but this is ridiculous. Poor old Thandi Tshabalala took two-and-a-half days to get to a match for South Africa. His epic journey started way back in Brisbane and ended up in Colombo a mere 30 hours' worth of flying time later after some tremendous organisational cock-ups. But Tshabalala took it all in his stride - even when there was the chance his luggage may go missing, when one of the airlines said his baggage was too heavy. "I just had to hope that it would arrive sometime," he said, with an admirably relaxed air. "But it was me or my luggage and I was scared I would end up in the middle of nowhere."

Them's the breaks How fortunes change. One minute Goldsborough CC were racking up a whole frogspawn of blobs as they slumped to five all out, with not one run off the bat. (As their chairman said: "It was a very, very dodgy wicket." Of course it was.) Their reward? National media interest, the culmination of which was a photoshoot with some Daily Sport models. Right. Meanwhile, the team that did all the hard work to dismiss them, Dishforth, have suffered a huge blow - their strike bowler Gavin Hardsley, who took seven for none in the match, injured his spine in a riding accident and is out for the rest of the year. But he has vowed to return as soon as possible, saying: "I am hoping to be back for the start of next season."

Glaringly obvious Isn't it typically British to find something to moan about in the middle of a heatwave. Earlier this summer we had players walking off the County Ground at Derby with clear blue skies as the setting sun stopped play. Then, at the Old Trafford Test play was held up for five minutes due to glare from the covers and the roof of the broadcast centre. This wasn't a first for Manchester as nearly every season the same thing happens - but usually closer to September - as the low setting sun causes problems on a pitch facing east-west. Andrew Strauss wasn't the happiest man after the stoppage; caught behind off Abdul Razzaq but really everyone should just savour all the sun there is. It'll be winter before long, then there'll be something to moan about.

Quotehanger "Umpiring is far too much like hard work for grandfathers like me."
Poacher turned gamekeeper Ian Botham after a ten-over stint in a white coat during son Liam Botham's charity match at The Rose Bowl

Jenny Thompson is assistant editor of Cricinfo