ANY GIVEN MONDAY
If the financial imperatives of the cricketing world ran on natural justice, New Zealand Cricket should be rolling in it rather than wondering how they can trim more fat off the domestic schedule.
The International Cricket Council owes them, big time. Not only should Kane Williamson and his men be transported to Heathrow at tournament's end in a gold-plated party bus, but NZC should be taking more than 50 per cent of the dividend for this tournament.
Without New Zealand this tournament has pretty much sucked pus.
The format that was meant to provide the most compelling spectacle yet has instead produced the worst – certainly in the coloured-clothing era, probably of all-time.
Thirty matches into a 48-game schedule we have had a succession of dreary mismatches, a long wait for the mizzle to clear and a tournament only exciting when cut into 30-minute highlights packages.
About a week into the tournament it became clear that there was a top four, bottom six divide. While home team and pre-tournament favourites England are doing their best to reverse their way out of the semifinals, it's likely they'll live to fight another day because the rest just aren't good enough.
Traditional heavyweights South Africa turned up looking terminally ill and have been put out of their misery before they had time to choke.
The West Indies veer wildly between dynamic and disinterested. As an emblem for their tournament, Chris Gayle injuring his shoulder celebrating a wicket will do just fine.
Former winners Pakistan are the epitome of hot and cold. India effectively changed the format of the World Cup because they wanted to sell the guarantee of an Indo-Pak pool clash to broadcasters. Pfffffffpt. Read the reports from the match and they all focus of kumbaya joyousness of it all, neglecting the fact it was a one-sided borefest.
Former winners Sri Lanka pulled off a giant upset against England courtesy of a rotund bowler many years past his prime bowling at about 130 clicks. There's your typical what-it-takes-to-play-high-performance-sport argument in shreds there.
Bangladesh have been decent without ever suggesting they were going to make a run for the playoffs.
The lone minnow, Afghanistan, have been overmatched and although it was cute that they bit the ankles of India for as long as they did on Saturday, three weeks into the tournament, we should have moved beyond cute storylines.
Then you have New Zealand. God this tournament owes them.
They've tethered themselves to the top of the table even while playing chaotically flawed cricket in a way that makes a lie of their status as one of world cricket's least glamorous drawcards.
They have been wildly entertaining; pure box-office gold.
From stumbling over the line chasing small-to-middling targets against Bangladesh and South Africa, to the way they've made a hash of catching in the deep – take a bow Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry and Colin Munro – they've kept the crowd and pay-TV customers thoroughly entertained.
They enter the final fortnight of round-robin play with their semifinal place all but sealed but with a third of the side chronically out of form. How can you not love that?
They do so on the back of the world's most unassuming superstar, a batting genius who would hate being called a genius only slightly more than he'd hate being called a superstar.
New Zealand's World Cup campaign has been comically brilliant.
Look at the way Williamson – who, if you needed it spelled out, is the genius superstar referred to above – and Ross Taylor build epic partnerships while trying their level best to end them early with their running between the wickets.
Watch Martin Guptill try to bat his way back into form before standing on his stumps. To add a bit of spice to his tournament he's been out for a golden duck and a royal duck. To add some herbs to Guptill's spice, his opening partner Munro was also dismissed for a golden duck in the same game Guptill bagged his royal.
Meanwhile Tom Latham is batting No 5 and does not look as if he knows where his next boundary is going to come from (there was no good explanation for him coming out ahead of either James Neesham or Colin de Grandhomme in the early hours of Sunday), yet the back-up keeper has never played a competitive ODI.
Just when you thought the bowling attack was balanced enough to counter the batting flaws, Henry proceeds to bowl one of the worst overs in ODI history.
Yet through it all, the Black Caps have somebody step up and do something just brilliantly enough to keep winning. Whether it's Boult's catch on the boundary, de Grandhomme's hitting against South Africa, Ferguson's raw pace or Williamson's serene excellence, someone puts their hand up.
The table says New Zealand has been the best team at this tournament so far. You could easily dispute that, but what is not up for debate is that they have been the most entertaining. Their matches have been the most vivid, and it's not even close to the next best.
For that they deserve to rewarded handsomely.
THE MONDAY LONG READ ...
Was interested to see this piece on competitive pinball from Men's Journal.
It brought back some memories of an interesting few hours spent with Dave Peck in South Auckland.