A snake charmer and an investment guru

Mind your language: Imagine turning up for an exam and finding that the questions are in a language you don't comprehend. How scary is that? It's exactly what happened to several Sri Lankan first-class umpires when they sat for a competitive examination to determine the top three umpires nominated for the ICC's international panel. The examination was conducted in English and not in Sinhalese, which is the common language, and several umpires walked out in protest. Out of 28 candidates, only five passed and one of the high profile failures was Asoka de Silva, who serves on the ICC international panel.

Sixes at the stock market: Adam Gilchrist's skill isn't limited to making bowlers cry on the cricket field, he's quite a player at the stock exchange too. At a launch of an investment competition in aid of arthritis research, Gilchrist outplayed a market-savvy opponent in a contest to see who could pick the stock that would give the best return over a two-hour lunch break. It wasn't a fluke either for Gilchrist had finished fourth, ahead of several pros, in an investment competition last year. He also revealed that stock talk happens often in the Australian dressing-room, with several players putting their seven-digit salaries to constructive use. Can you picture Andrew Symonds advising Shane Watson about stock options?

'We wish you were ... : English', was what the Barmy Army sang as Shane Warne walked off The Oval after the fifth Ashes Test in 2005. And now Justin Langer has admitted that there's an Englishman that he wishes was Australian - Kevin Pietersen. "And the reason we don't really like Kevin Pietersen is that he displays traits which rub us up the wrong way," wrote Langer in his BBC column. "We would love to have him in our team, because we love the way he goes about his business." And Pietersen wasn't too fussed about rubbing others the wrong way either as he rubbished the Schofield report's recommendation that the England players should spend limited time with their wives and girlfriends on overseas tours.

Warne-d: It hasn't been a happy week for KP's chum Shane Warne. Unhappy with Tim Robinson's decision to give him out leg before against Kent, Warne walked back to the pavilion and uttered an obscenity that was, unfortunately for him, heard. He was reported and the ECB fined him six points under their disciplinary code. And there was more off-field trouble. No, not of that kind. The British advertising authority came down sternly on a pitch used by Warne for a hair-care advertisement. They felt the ad mis-led buyers into thinking the product cured baldness. If Warne's been using it, we'll soon know if it works.

Ferraris, vada pavs and now litchis: Sachin Tendulkar has been the recipient of unusual gifts in the past - a Ferrari from FIAT, and 35 vada pavs from Vinod Kambli to cite a couple. He also receives 1000 litchis - yes 1000 - every year from an adoring Indian fan. Sudhir Kumar Chaudhary says that Tendulkar gives him match tickets and in an outlandish show of gratitude, he's been delivering an absurd number of fruits to his idol since 2004. Sudhir also goes to extraordinary pains to watch cricket, even of the dullest variety. He rode a bicycle all the way to Bangladesh to watch the Indians in action and hopes to return in time to harvest his litchis.

A script's natural death: Bollywood director Mahesh Bhatt said that he was going to make a movie based on the death of Bob Woolmer. And although the plot - a love story set against a cricketing background - was fictional and Woolmer's name would not feature in it, the connection would be obvious. Bhatt was going to throw in a dash of betting, a pinch of match-fixing and a healthy dose of the songs that are so essential to the perfect Bollywood masala. But with reports emerging that Woolmer may not have been murdered, there could well be a change of script.

The insect warriors: Sandstorms and dead birds are among the stranger things to have halted a cricket match but the tough men at Neston Cricket Club refused to let a swarm of midges on to that list. The batsmen batted on, clutching the handle with one hand and swatting away the gnat-like insects with the other. "We came off looking like turkey cocks," said Garry Hambleton, one of the unfortunate umpires. "Apart from the massive skin irritation, they were very distracting, in the eyes, on our spectacles, flying in our faces, in the ears, up the nose."

The Charmer: During a visit to Bannerghatta National Park in Bangalore, Rahul Dravid did his bit for Mother Nature by taking one of her children off her hands. He adopted a cobra under the reptile conservation programme. He intends, however, to be a hands-off parent and will send the park authorities a handsome sum of money to keep the cobra comfortable.