"I love the smell of green lip balm in the morning"
(by guest paragraphist Umar Akmal)
Ah, there's nothing like "getting-selected-for-national-duties-again-after-having-been-discarded-for-no-good-reason" season in Pakistan. It's a time of year quite unlike any other, one that we have grown accustomed to having punctuated by the sweet sound of ball meeting willow, the musical tinkle of a family member's bedroom window as it is stoned by irate fans, and what for me is a bit of a personal touch - the sweet, sweet smell of lizard-green lip balm in the morning: the distinctive pong wafting out of a freshly opened can awakens the senses; the act of spreading the cream across the skin evokes a martial aspect, as though one is preparing for war; and the green colouring that makes my gorgeous lips just pop from my face, doing justice to their fullness and shape.

Speaking of which, it gives me uncomfortably great pleasure in announcing that, as a special gesture to my fans, whose patience and faith I owe so much to, I will be giving away special imprints of my lips on paper in lieu of autographs all season long. Come get some, folks.

Pattinson prepares for revenge
James Pattinson wants to take revenge on England for the treatment meted out to his brother Darren years ago.

"They dishonoured the family name," wheezed the younger brother through the mouthful of marbles he has taken to sucking on in an attempt at approximating a suitably villainous voice. "And now justice must be done." To further prepare for his vengeful role in the Ashes, James has put on weight, bought some hair gel and a dark suit, and adopted a hideous cat from the local pound to stroke in his lap as he ponders his options.

"Oh, I'll make that ball talk all right," warbled Pattinson. "Trust me, we have ways of making a ball talk that are the stuff of nightmare," he added menacingly, while making a cut-throat gesture with his finger. "We have one ball in our hotel room now that we've been working on for days. I almost feel sorry for it; it's been squealing like a stuck pig."

The fast bowler then attempted to cackle diabolically, before appearing to choke on one of the marbles.

Noble Vettori explains why he refused a NZC contract
Daniel Vettori's refusal of a new New Zealand Cricket contract is being hailed as a noble gesture typical of the great man. Says Vettori: "I could have not said anything and just pocketed the money being offered by NZC for a new contract, but I couldn't have that on my conscience. While the injured tendon has come a long way in recent times, I know in my heart of hearts that it is still not 100% fit to play much more than the two months it might get away withstanding while playing in the IPL for ten times the amount of money.

"Aw look, I'm just doing what anyone would have done in my position," he added modestly.

Ashes trumpeter responds to ban
Billy Cooper, the Barmy Army trumpeter, has been disallowed from playing his instrument at the Trent Bridge Test match against Australia. When asked for his response, Cooper picked up his trumpet and issued a series of short, mournful sounds from it that can phonetically only be described as, "Wah wah waah waaaaaaahhhhhh." For an approximation, click here.

Lehmann still playing coochie-coo with Clarke
With just days remaining until the start of the Ashes, Darren Lehmann is apparently still trying his best to placate little Michael Clarke, who appears to be continuing to find it difficult adjusting to the new coach's ways. "Who gets to choose the team he wants?" cooed Darren Lehmann in his best baby voice as he crouched over his captain's pushchair in a gruesome scene. "You do! Yes, you do, you big boy! Who's a big boy?" intoned the coach, but to apparently little effect. Lil' Pup continued to turn his face away and refuse to be fed his coach's lines that he does, in fact, have some sway over the playing XI.

Virat Kohli relieved to be able to curse again
After going without a century for a gap that, by his high standards, was starting to prove worrisome, Virat Kohli has spoken of his elation and relief at finally being able to reach three figures and curse to his heart's content in celebration again.

The batsman confessed that he had suffered a bout of nerves while in the nineties during the recent match against West Indies. "I wasn't sure I could remember how to do it," said Kohli. "I mean, I knew it had something to do with someone's sister, but I wasn't sure of the order in which the words were supposed to go if and when I got to the century."

Thankfully for him, the invective flowed smoothly upon his reaching the milestone. "It's like riding a bike after a gap. You never really ******* forget how," explained the relieved batsman.

Australia reveal sledging plans for Joe Root
Joe Root is apparently being lined up as a potential sledging target by Australia during the Ashes, according to a report. Sources confirm that the Aussies have planned a simple two-point sledging plan for the batsman: tell him he looked great with that wig on. In case that has no effect, tell him he looked terrible with that wig on.

"Either way, I think we've got our bases covered," said Lehmann with what appeared to be a knowing wink.

R Rajkumar tweets here