Bumble black out, beardy weirdy and confiscated items

Richard Illingworth is the latest umpire to be selected for the England and Wales Cricket Board’s exchange programme with West Indies. Illingworth, 47, has just completed his first home summer on the international list – his debut was Bangladesh’s historic win over Andrew Strauss’ team in Bristol – and will follow Richard Kettleborough and Rob Bailey in officiating in first-class cricket in the Caribbean. With the International Cricket Council demanding that officials wanting to stand at the highest level have experience of ‘umpiring in different cultures’, the ECB has also made provision for one of their men in white coats to be dispatched to India post-Christmas in a similar arrangement, with Peter Willey adjudicating on who is most deserving of the gig.

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David Lloyd’s 20-date Start the Car theatre tour began in the kind of wonderful chaos associated with cricket’s favourite commentator. But the complete blackout 10 minutes from the end of the opening night show in Leamington Spa was not a pre-planned prank, rather a genuine power-cut in the area which left our Bumble having to say an early goodnight to the crowd following an evacuation. Meanwhile, Bumble’s book of the same name is approaching a suspected first for cricket literature – with close to 1000 audio downloads purchased online.

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What happened to those quiet off-season days of yesteryear? Nottinghamshire batsman Mark Wagh is certainly not one to put his feet up, having launched into a charity bike road from John O’Groats to Land’s End days after his club secured the County Championship title. Wagh, 34, raised more than £1000 for the National Literacy Trust in pedalling from one end of Britain to the other. He is certainly packing a lot into his final year as a professional cricketer – he will learn capoeira, the dance-martial art hybrid in its native Brazil during a six-week trip leading up to Christmas – before starting his training as a commercial lawyer.

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Two decades after Ted Dexter advised that the England hierarchy “will be looking at the whole question of facial hair”, so worried was he about international cricketers sporting designer stubble, the Professional Cricketers’ Association are encouraging members to go all beardy weirdy. The PCA have joined into the spirit of Movember – a month in which blokes are encouraged to grow moustaches and whiskers – to raise awareness about men’s health, and more specifically prostate cancer. Donations can be made at http://uk.movember.com/register/80516.

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England’s four-day team bonding camp in Bavaria was designed to challenge the players outside of their comfort zone, and being woken up in the middle of the night to participate in physical challenges is hardly fun. However, perhaps the most impressive survival skills displayed by the itchy-fingered squad was surviving the entire venture without texting or Tweeting. Mobile phones were confiscated at the start of the jaunt and not handed back until departure from Germany. Suppose that’s one way of vetting social networking comments.

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