Kambli's ball and chain
The most important piece of equipment a fast bowler will possess (other than a box) is their footwear. And to their aid come Nike, the billion-dollar sportswear company who last year signed an agreement with the India team worth a record US$135m. Nike have unveiled a shoe, the Air Zoom Yorker, designed exclusively for fast bowlers and lavished with unsurpassed technological wizardry (in short: extra cushioning). This is all encouraging news. More confusing is the decision to name Shane Bond as the 'face' of their product. This is a bowler so twig-snappingly brittle that his supporters breath a sigh of relief for every ball he sends down. Should he complete a six-ball over without rupturing as-yet-unknown tendons, New Zealanders hold street parties long into the night. Can the AZY help him? "Our research spanned many key areas," says Chris Cook, Nike's senior developer, "such as comfort, cushioning, flexibility, traction, stability and shoe weight." Impressive stuff. It's still just a shoe-shaped pillow though.
The barmy bulldog British spirit lives on
"Batsman has a heart attack but plays on in bid to hit 50" read the headline last week. Remarkably, the story is true - and a happy one too. Jim Young, a 57-year-old electrician from Westmill, Hertfordshire, was on 32 when he felt pains in the centre of his chest. "At the time," he said, "it seemed the right thing to carry on. I knew I was close to my first 50 of the season so I suppose that motivated me." His team-mates, no doubt wary of their batsman's ill-health but more concerned with their fledgling total, let him continue for a while before seeing sense and forcing him to retire on 44. This could only happen to a Briton. His replacements - fit and healthy by all accounts - came and went in a hurry, so Jim strapped on his pads again and marched out with a runner. He remained unbeaten on 48 - short of the milestone, but still standing. An ambulance took him to a hospital in Harlow, Essex before being taken to a specialist unit at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London. All those "niggling injuries" players complain of seem a touch trivial now.
Damp patch on a length
Catapulted from a nearby park, with a precision the American military can only envy, a water bomb landed on a length to disrupt play between Lancashire and Warwickshire at Stanley Park in Blackpool on Wednesday. My colleague Andrew McGlashan - a ferociously loyal Lancashire fan, still spitting with rage at losing the C&G Trophy last week - intrepidly hunted down an eyewitness. And he found one: another journalist covering the game wandered over to get a burger and chips shortly afterwards and asked the lady serving "Have you heard anything about a water bomb?" "No," she replied. "I know nothing about cricket." Not really the answer he was looking for. Regardless, it puts a whole new meaning into the phrase "a damp patch just on a length".
Who's a pretty boy then?
Although it's the back-end of the summer, silly season is still upon us. From water bombs to parrots: a large, bright green male parrot stopped play at Shotley Bridge Cricket Club last week. "I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it wandering across the cricket pitch. It was such an unusual sight," said Catherine Slevin, the parrot-snatcher. "My husband Lee and I took it home to protect it and were amazed at how friendly it was. It allowed friends and family to stroke it and kept saying 'hello' to us." The story is a sub-editor's dream...
Kambli and Andrea, sitting in a tree
Is Vinod Kambli, the former India batsman who once put on a 664-run partnership with Sachin Tendulkar, settling down? The flamboyant, bullish batsman and similarly colourful personality, is to marry the model, Andrea Hewitt, on September 8. Kambli, a ferociously gifted batsman, played his last Test in 1995 aged just 23 and although he continued to plunder runs in domestic cricket, his glitzy lifestyle tricked him into believing he was Vin Diesel, not Vin Kambli. In his Bollywood debut he played Bandya (who was shot) in the 2002 film Annarth at the crease, moving one critic to suggest Kambli spend "some money on acting lessons before appearing in a film again". Such frivolity is past him, for now. "I am convinced that I have someone very special to spend the rest of my life with. Andrea has really changed me with her loving care. And yes, she can send her message out loud and clear when I stray. We've found a soul mate in each other."
"I found Graeme Smith's attitude pretty childish. He's a bloke who needs the game but he hasn't got many friends in it. I don't talk to Smith now. It's a waste of breath because I don't have any respect for him."
Kevin Pietersen and Graeme Smith lock horns. Again. So, when are England next due to play South Africa...?
Will Luke is editorial assistant of Cricinfo