Vaseline makes the man
Michael Clarke has revealed the secret of his soft hands when playing the ball. "I soak my hands in Vaseline overnight," Clarke had apparently no problem admitting. "It helps my batting so much that I even wear gloves lined with the stuff on match days." Clarke explained that batsmen raised on pitches outside the subcontinent had to go the extra mile to get soft, "touchable" hands. "And did you know that Vaseline's great for the face too? Keeps those pesky premature wrinkles away. That's a tip I learned from watching the Tyra Banks Show."

The Wall is dead. Long live The Wall
Rahul Dravid has officially endorsed Cheteshwar Pujara as the next Wall. At a small function to mark the occasion, Dravid went out of his way to give the young pretender some unsolicited advice on what he can look forward to.

"It's not going to be easy," Dravid warned. "Being a wall, people will look to take advantage of you. Many are going to want to use you, mainly to urinate against. But you should stand firm," the legend advised. "What you have to remember is, if you look after your foundations, not lose too many bricks along the way, and keep your structural integrity from being compromised, you can withstand even the most sustained and corrosive blast of fast bowling and/or human waste."

Frustrated Ashwin to go back to carrom board
After a less than stellar performance in the second innings in Ahmedabad against England and on day two in Mumbai, R Ashwin is all set to get the basics right. "My childhood coach always said it does a mystery spinner good just to sit cross-legged on the floor in front of the old board, spread some fresh talcum powder across the lacquered plywood, and practice flicking that striker against the margins," said Ashwin.

It is hoped that going back to the basics will help Ashwin turn in a less complicated performance, if not necessarily a better one. He has been guilty of doing too many things, including running in to bowl as a left-armer would, appearing to do the Riverdance just before delivering the ball, and, in one memorable spell in the first Test, managing to somehow flip and twirl pizza dough at varying points during his run-up.

Swann decides the sunglasses must go
In news involving another spinner, Graeme Swann has decided to give up wearing sunglasses while bowling. According to a tweet on a mock Swann account managed and followed only by Kevin Pietersen, the offie realised that wearing sunglasses while bowling doesn't necessarily make one a "mystery" spinner after all.

Amla to give sledging a go
In what has already been a heated series, with both Australia and South Africa resorting to verbal intimidation on the field, Hashim Amla has stood out like a vegan at an illegal exotic-meats buffet. But not anymore. Reports have it that the South African think-tank is trying to fire up the normally placid Amla so they have one more man on the field giving as good as he gets from the Aussies. "We've been trying to get him going," admitted Graeme Smith. "I think we can look forward to a transformed Hashim Amla for the rest of the series."

Amla, meanwhile, was busy preparing for the battles ahead. "You are a bad man," he was heard muttering as he practised his sledging in front of a lifesize cardboard cutout of James Pattinson. "You are a very...bad man."

Pie-chucker fine-tunes his bowling
Yuvraj Singh always manages to draw a crowd, even at practice. Recently fans watched spellbound as the star fine-tuned his bowling at the Wankhede Stadium. There was an anticipatory hush in the air as the customary trolley of assorted pastries was wheeled on to the ground by the support staff. Which dessert would Yuvi choose? Fans could hardly conceal their excitement as the big fella squatted in front of the glass display case and pondered his options. Finally, after sniffing, tapping, and even tasting a few of the desserts on offer, Yuvraj selected a hefty banana cream pie. A huge roar broke out in the stands as he strode to the crease with the pie, took a few steps, and, with an almighty grunt, chucked it at the feet of a life-size cardboard cutout* of Kevin Pietersen at the other end of the pitch.

*Life-size cutouts being the latest fad to catch on in practice these days, apparently.

R Rajkumar tweets here

All quotes and "facts" in this article are made up, but you knew that already, didn't you?