Stokes undergoes coming-of-age ceremony
Ben Stokes came of age with an all-round performance at Lord's that inspired a beleaguered team to victory against New Zealand.

Accordingly, as is the custom, Stokes will be expected to take part in certain rites that serve to mark his aforementioned transition to manhood.

In time-honoured tradition, he will first be expected, in the short interval between the first and second Tests, to take leave of his friends and family and spend three days alone in Epping Forest wearing nothing but a loincloth while seeking shelter and foraging for food.

Upon his successful return from the bush, he will be required to perform a ceremony on the banks of the nearest water body, where he will smear river mud across his face and chest before washing it off, an ancient ritual that scholars say is meant to signify the victory of Good over Kevin Pietersen, and the consequent renewal of hope.

Then and only then will the young man's unfinished sleeve tattoos be touched up, marking the ultimate ritual that a young England player has to complete before he can be said to have fully come of age.

"And after that, we're all heading down to the pub," said Alastair Cook. "It'll be Ben's first time!"

"Can I come too?" asked a small voice, which turned out to belong to none other than Joe Root. Everyone laughed. "Not yet, Joe," they said in chorus. "Not yet."

Cricket likely to emerge winner
Experts agree that no matter which way the results in the Pakistan-Zimbabwe series go, cricket is most likely to emerge the winner.

"Great," said Pakistan coach Waqar Younis. "Our first home series in six years and the game of cricket gets to snatch the glory that is rightfully ours."

Zimbabwe coach Dav Whatmore was more philosophical about it all. "There's no shame in losing to the game," he said. "Especially if it makes people forget that you're losing to the opposition."

Bayliss to learn English for new job
New England coach Trevor Bayliss has intimated that he is more than willing to learn the language of his new home in order to better communicate with his players, according to Andrew Strauss. "The fact that Trevor has accepted our condition of his having to take English elocution lessons speaks volumes for his professionalism and augurs well for the future of English cricket," said Strauss, who revealed that in his first meeting with the new coach the two men could barely understand each other due to the language barrier.

"All I heard from him were a series of guttural croaks, which I assumed was some sort of cretinous Australian dialect, I don't know," said Strauss, who then put a positive spin on things: "Language issues aside, I firmly believe that players and coach will ultimately have no problems understanding one another, because cricket is a universal language, as they say. Or is that football?" he asked, after a pause. "God help us all if it's football," he added.

Interview with an IPL cheerleader
Among the people making their way home from the IPL are a few of the tournament's less remarked-upon personalities. We caught up with one, Candi ("with an 'I'") from California, who has spent the last few weeks working as a cheerleader.

So are you a fan of the game?
"Are you kidding? I love cricketball," said Candi, fluttering her eyelids and blowing a kiss. "Before my job with the IPL League, I knew very little about the game, but now I can't get enough," she said, before adding, as an afterthought, "Whoo!"

Do you have a favourite player?
"It would have to be that one guy, oh I can't believe I've forgotten his name, he's so talented…"

Gautam Gambhir?
"No, no… eww, as if. No, it's that one short little player who has his shirtfront unbuttoned down till the beginnings of his stomach. You know, the guy with the weird hair who blows kisses at everyone every time he reaches a personal milestone? Come to think of it, he sure seems to reach a lot of personal milestones…"

You don't mean…
"Shah Rukh Khan. That's his name."

What has been your favourite memory of this edition of the IPL?
"Probably when the whole cricketball tournament finally ended, to be honest. I love the game, but there's only so many times your knees can take climbing up and down that stage every time someone hits a home run."

Least favourite memory?
"Oh, none at all. Except for maybe all the old men in the crowd trying to get pervy videos of you. And the insane heat. And did I mention all the old men in the crowd trying to get pervy videos of you? Come to think of it, I'm not all that fond of cricketball after all, to be honest."

What's next for you? Will you be back next year?
"As a matter of fact, yes. My contract runs for the next two editions at least," she said, a haunted look in her eyes, before adding a forlorn, barely audible "Whoo."

Rhodes relieved at being able to go back to normal
Jonty Rhodes has spoken of his relief at finally being able to pop his earphones back into his ears now that the IPL is finally over.

"You have to understand, it's not easy for me to go around without something stuffed inside my ears at all times," shouted Rhodes over the music he was listening to off his phone. "I guess you could say that I have an aural fixation."

Rhodes, who other than during the two months in the year that the IPL is on can rarely if ever be glimpsed without a pair of headphones in his ears, revealed that it had been a strange experience being forced to hear anything other than Celine Dion and Pitbull over the past few weeks.

"It was definitely weird hearing all the other stuff that's out there in the world," he said. "Mostly people, forming words, trying to talk to me. Apparently people have been trying to talk to me for years."

"What?" he shouted in response to a question. "I'm sorry, I can't hear you anymore, I've got these headphones back in my ears."

R Rajkumar tweets @roundarmraj

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