He's fun in the commentary box

Shane Warne is constantly baiting Nasser Hussain and winning all their exchanges. Warne can't say enough nice things about Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, and V. V. S. Laxman on air, while being less than complimentary about some of his former team-mates. Over to S. Ram Mahesh.

How cool a nickname is Rebel? The diary has been trying for ages to get something like that, but the deal with nicknames is you're often stuck with the worst. Fortunately the diary didn't get called Tunnu or Bunnu or something equally barf-inducing. But neither was it called what Steve Rouse, the Edgbaston groundsman, goes by. Rebel Rouse (rabble rouse, get it?) retires after the third Test, with apparently not so much as a thank you from his bosses. He'll head to South Africa. Sadly for India, Andrew Strauss, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, and Matt Prior won't.

Warn'e fitness

Shane Warne was famously called a pumpkin by Navjot Singh Sidhu, who he still rates the most difficult man he bowled to, but these days he's looking rather un-pumpkin-like. Unless you consider the sort of pumpkins that are grown to shrivel inside bottles.

What the hell's happened to him? He's been exercising and dieting apparently, down to 79 kilos, as he informs us, the weight he last tipped the scales at during the eighth grade. Liz Hurley runs a tight ship, it seems, making sure the man she dangles on her arm doesn't let her down, or so the English tabloids, the high-priests of accurate reportage, speculate. Warne feeds the speculation while starving himself, tweeting this to his object of affection: “confession time — I had a bread roll today — sorry! please don't hurt me or punish me or make me sleep in spare room”. It's Warne's face that's most intriguing.

There have been whispers of a facelift, he puts it down to miracle moisturiser, but something isn't quite as it should be. That's the most the diary will venture lest it be thought of as shallow and superficial. He's fun in the commentary box though, constantly baiting Nasser Hussain and winning all their exchanges. Warne can't say enough nice things about Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, and V. V. S. Laxman on air, while being less than complimentary about some of his former team-mates. One Warne critic said the leg-spinner held a grudge as well as he held his catches. But he's among admirers and friends in the Sky Sports booth, and appears a happy man. Liz is around as well, ensuring she's never far from a roving camera. Quite the celebrity couple, the new Becks and Posh. They run into a bit of trouble at Edgbaston, when, after the match, Ms. Hurley wishes to get on the field so she can watch, from close proximity, Warne round up the third Test with Michael Atherton and Michael Holding. A steward doesn't let her through, and all of Warne's pleadings are to no avail. Eventually another steward intervenes. The power couple take the field, high heels, ridiculous handbags and all. Then there's Liz with her many accessories.

Almost fan-like

Warne's not the only one ribbing Nass. At an event in aid of Yuvraj Singh's charity foundation in London, Hussain, almost fan-like, asks Sachin Tendulkar whether he enjoys being Sachin Tendulkar. Rahul Dravid quips: “How come you didn't ask me about being Rahul Dravid?” Not bad, Mr. Earnest. Nass gets in one good line, however to Yuvraj. “All the best for your charity but no sympathies for your injured fingers for what you did to me in the (2002) NatWest final.”

No entry!

You'd imagine that when a ground names a gate after you, they'd happily let you in through the named gate. But Alec Stewart is refused entry at the Alec Stewart Gate at The Oval, and not even a cheery wave and a conspiratorial wink can win the stewards over. What do you do around here to get famous? Nasser Hussain, who is presenting the footage, is beside himself with joy. Stewart declares it's a non-story. The Sky cameras caught him at a barricade not the Alec Stewart Gate. Yeah, right. The diary is anxious to assure readers that there are no problems about its entry at any ground. It's no Alec Stewart, but it gets by.

Bit of a makeover

The older readers will recall Bruce French, the former England wicketkeeper: short back and sides, military brush moustache. He's had a bit of a makeover since then. He's grown a full head of hair, and unlike Warnie, he's had no artificial help. And he hasn't gelled it in dishevelled spikes either; this is a full-on mop. The moustache is gone. The result is Benjamin Button-like: French, 52, looks 32. Matt Prior seems headed in the other direction. He'd like some of whatever Warne and French are having.