Hoggard's own beer, and moustaches against cancer
The blond and full-bodied beer
Matthew Hoggard has been working desperately hard to recover from back spasms that ruled him out of the Test series against India. Or has he? Hoggard, it is reported, has been spending time at a brewery, and he unveiled the fruits of his labour at the Great British Beer Festival - his very own brand of beer. The ale has been named after one of Hoggard's best cricket skills as well - it's called the Nightwatchman. "I really enjoyed brewing my own beer with the team at Marston's," Hoggard said. "I can recommend a pint of Nightwatchman. It's the perfect way to unwind after a day's play. It doesn't get better than having a beer named after you." Really? Even better than the 2005 Ashes, the OBEs, the commemorative stamps and Trafalgar Square?
More blond controversy
The Australian Cricketers' Association is fuming because some Australian players have been misrepresented on the MySpace social networking website. A fake Shane Watson entry has photos of a scantily clad cricketer in the background with blurbs that say intelligent things such as, "I'm Shane Watson, but you probably recognise me because I'm hot" and "I like hot chicks. I like to play cricket, but I'm usually injured". And under the "Who I'd like to meet" section, the fake Watson says: "Blond chicks". David Boon, the former batsman, and a selector at present, also has an entry which was pointed out to him by his son. "If someone wants to have a bit of fun, good luck to them, but it's definitely not me," Boon told The Australian. "It's been going on with the internet for years. What's the difference with MySpace?" Needless to say Cricket Australia are working with MySpace to weed out the offending profiles and, in fact, the Watson web page isn't accessible at the moment, in case you were thinking of checking it out.
Whiskers against cancer
Money has been raised for the fight against cancer in several different ways. Some people go on long walks while others run. The players at Nottinghamshire have decided to grow sponsored moustaches for beneficiary Paul Franks' nominated charity Cancer Research UK. The brainwave was lifted from a similar event in New Zealand where men grow whiskers for charity during the month of "Mo-vember". "When this idea got mentioned in the dressing room there was a near-unanimous thumbs-up," said Franks. "We're looking to raise £5,000 over the course of 'Mo-ugust' and all donations will be very gratefully received." Everybody's happy - expect the WAGs that is.
Botham faces extinction ...
... from the record books at Durham at least. He spent a season and a half there and even though it was towards the end of his career, he managed to establish a few records. Those marks have gradually been bettered over the years, and Lee Goddard wiped out the second-last of them by smashing 50 off 32 balls against Sri Lanka A at Riverside last week. It was the fastest fifty by a Durham batsman, one ball quicker than Botham managed in his time. The only record that Botham still holds at Durham is for the third-highest sixth-wicket stand, which he set when he added 152 with Anderson Cummins against Worcestershire at Stockton in 1993.
A century in extras
Minor Counties matches don't attract much attention but Lincolnshire made us sit up and take notice with an extremely generous bowling performance against Norfolk in their Eastern division match. After recovering from 39 for 5 to post 384, Lincolnshire gift-wrapped Norfolk 89 runs by way of extras. There were 30 byes, 13 leg byes, 18 wides and 28 no-balls. Lincolnshire weren't done, though: they gave away 44 more in the second innings. Norfolk who gave away just 21 extras in the match, won - by one wicket.
Another routine week in the rollercoaster life of Shoaib Akhtar. The drama started when he left a training camp early, complaining of a stiff neck. Only he hadn't sought permission to do so, according to Shafqat Naghmi, the PCB's chief operating officer. The issue boiled over when Shoaib failed to appear before a disciplinary committee the next day, which earned him a $5000 fine. He couldn't be located despite the PCB's efforts to get in touch with him but eventually turned up at the Gaddafi Stadium, where the PCB offices are located, a couple of days later, and reportedly threw a tantrum because he felt he wasn't provided a chance to clarify his position. Now he faces the possibility of more punishment. Watch this space for further updates.
Who stole my bat?
Lee Hughes, an Australian businessman, has had his prize possession stolen. Hughes was the proud owner of limited-edition cricket bat signed by all the members of the Australian team after the 2006-07 Ashes. Given that only 100 such bats were released, you'd have thought he'd have kept his locked up in a safe, but instead he displayed the "priceless" bat on the wall in his office at his bakery in Palmerston, near Darwin. The bakery was broken into and the bat, along with a mountain bike and a TV, was stolen. Hughes said he was "pretty mad'' when he got to work to find the damage but would be at peace if the bat was returned.
More on jelly beans
Sweet manufacturers Jelly Belly have said that their online sales of their "sport beans" category has seen a 20% increase since the Nottingham Test. Who'd have ever thought that a cricket match would lead to better jelly bean sales.
George Binoy is an editorial assistant on Cricinfo