You see, therein lies the oxymoron in Australia, the hosts and India making the ICC World Cup semifinals in England and Wales this week.

The only thing predictable about the trio is they were going to make the muster but who will go on to claim the bragging rights to the global one-day international tournament still remains a lucky dip.

Sure, the crystal-ball gazers will thump their chests and punters will collect in defiance of bookmakers' forecasts but the reality is "anything can happen".

That's a far cry from coach Scott Robertson break dancing on Saturday night after the Crusaders won three crowns on the trot under his tutelage in Super Rugby. If TV had yanked out its final celebratory footage from the previous two years few probably would have noticed the difference.

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So much of sport is mind-numbingly foreseeable that you can't blame the masses for losing interest.

All of which takes us to the Black Caps, like it or not, somewhat fortuitously claiming the fourth spot that had a wild card feel about it.

If anything, it's the New Zealanders' entry that breaks the banality to ensure the cup won't suffocate in its safety.

In a fairytale script, the Gary Stead-coached Kiwis will capture the imagination most if captain Kane Williamson lifts the silverware for their maiden acquisition. Apart from those jumping on to the patriotic wagon, few gave them any chance of getting that far.

For that matter, Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur does have a point in asking the ICC to revisit the criteria on qualifying on net run rate when one team beats another, after they are tied on points, should trump everything else.

Even hardcore fans will agree, when they take their eye patches off, that the cricketing mercenaries pack more mongrel to cause an upset in the playoffs than the Black Caps.

No doubt, England fall in the same category as New Zealand in pursuit of a first cup crown and what better time to do it than on your home soil.

India, dare I say it, seem to possess a quiet sense of accomplishment about them despite every team having lost games although I'm not convinced England beat India or South Africa ground down Australia.

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It's perfectly all right for playoff contenders to start massaging results to determine what is their easiest path to glory.

I said it before and I reiterate, if the Ockers prevail it'll be Australia 1 Cricket 0. Never mind how much TV attempts to mute the boos and jeers when David Warner scores a century or Steve Smith takes a catch or runs out someone, the premier summer sport in the world will be poorer for having the sand paper merchants play a role in their ascendancy, which remains under immense scrutiny.

To be fair, that argument can be tabled against England every time Ben Stokes starts throwing his bat around after his much-publicised rap on the knuckles following his involvement, and subsequent court clearance of charges, at a Bristol pub last year.

Diplomacy is great in healing rifts of the yesteryear but addressing perceived injustices amid politics is another issue.

"Due to Japan back to killing whales let's not have the All Blacks attend the Rugby World Cup," says a reader in the Texts2ed section of Hawke's Bay Today.

The chances of that happening are as good as the ABs not selecting Sevu Reece because of his court appearance in Hamilton last year on one count of male assaults female, which he admitted.

But I digress. The next few days in cricket-dom is about what happens on the paddock. To be precise, the team that adapts the best will roll the dice once more at the Lord's on Sunday.

As readers we are forever bombarded with the ordinariness of marquee cricketers who will carve up runs to provide the platform of a solid innings and bowlers who will claim timely scalps to stymie a run chase.

It's not Williamson or Ross Taylor scoring runs that'll have the great unwashed salivating.

No, it's Martin Guptill providing the platform that will buck the trend or Ish Sodhi taking a five-wicket bag to do the unthinkable in the first semifinal at Old Trafford, Manchester, that'll set the playoffs alight from 9.30pm tomorrow.

It's not Stokes' consistency but Jos Butler snapping out of a batting slumber and leg spinner Adil Rashid adding to the collective that will make the difference in the second semifinal on Thursday at Edgbaston, Birmingham.

By the way, it's not as simple as finding that mongrel because if that's all it took South Africa wouldn't have been in their predicament.

It won't happen but the curators of the ICC World Cup deserve an afternoon tea with Queen Elizabeth at the Buckingham Palace for preparing strips of prime real estate fit for royalty. Photo / AP
It won't happen but the curators of the ICC World Cup deserve an afternoon tea with Queen Elizabeth at the Buckingham Palace for preparing strips of prime real estate fit for royalty. Photo / AP

For that reason alone the curators in England and Wales should be treated to an afternoon tea at the behest of the Queen at the Buckingham Palace for amping up the shock voltage this year.

To pull the boundary ropes in is taking it too far — or too close to Twenty20 — but seaming and swinging prime real estates are not a given any more.

They did such a remarkable job that even England were unhappy about the wicket when they lost to Pakistan.

The pitch police have taken every team out of their comfort zone, demanding them to look way beyond a coin toss in employing their cricketing smarts. That is, have a blueprint on how to approach batting and bowling as opposed to "having a swagger".

Any preconceived notions of what England conditions offer are out the window because at one venue a wicket offers a greenish tinge but that doesn't mean it'll offer any purchase.

If it does then there's no guarantee it'll last more than 10 to 15 overs. Ditto spin, bounce and carry.

Factors such as history, including the "India A" battery and assault here last summer as well as a meaningless warm-up game in England last month, will count for nothing.

It's the unpredictable catches, including those of wicketkeepers, that could turn the game around in the blink of an eye.

It goes without saying the organisers will want teams who ignite the fuse of revenue-generating TV conglomerates to advance to the final and no points for guessing who they are.

Black Caps can assume the mantle of NBA upstarts Toronto Raptors in cricket-dom if they want to but zero tolerance towards sentimentalism is imperative.

Assuming there are no reserve days and the dreaded DL Method doesn't creep in, who'll progress if rain dictates terms?

Arthur, please, enlighten us?

Black Caps coach Gary Stead knows only too well that all it'll take is someone of the ilk of opening batsman Henry Nicholls to turn the game around against gargantuan odds. Photo / Photosport
Black Caps coach Gary Stead knows only too well that all it'll take is someone of the ilk of opening batsman Henry Nicholls to turn the game around against gargantuan odds. Photo / Photosport