ANY GIVEN MONDAY (Thursday edition)
New Zealand have reached their second World Cup final in a row and the paths could hardly have been more different had one been paved with gold, the other a rutted track.
As Black Cap fans this morning wake to a groggy sort of euphoria, they'll tell you it matters not what the path looks like, it's the destination that counts.
This is a very different campaign from 2015; although the majority of the personnel are the same, it's a very different team.
Perhaps it took some of us too long to understand that.
Where four years ago we'd been instantly carried along on a wave of Brendon McCullum-led bravado, Kane Williamson inspires a slow-burning type of beguilement.
The 2015 edition blew away all before them with a flurry of flat-batted sixes and punchy fours. They did so with an outstanding new-ball attack and some wily old-ball operators. They were full of fielders who crashed into advertising hoardings.
This team beats you with a thousand thick-edged singles and fielders that pluck one-handed catches off the grass tips. Most crucially, it has a beautifully balanced attack that believes it can do extraordinary things - like defend 239 against some of the most imperious batsmen in the world, for example.
The contrasts don't end there. Where New Zealand won their 2015 semifinal with a near-orgasmic six that even had Presbyterians dancing in the Eden Park stands, this team stood around and waited for DRS to confirm a thin edge as thousands of Indian spectators filed out of Old Trafford into the Manchester gloom.
Make no mistake, though, just as the 2015 side was cast in McCullum's image, this one belongs to Williamson.
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He has carried a burden, too much so if we're being honest.
After a brilliant start to the tournament with the bat, lately he has looked like he has wrestled with the dilemma of being both sheet anchor and also tempo setter of the innings.
On the first day of this strange two-day one-dayer, he arrived at the crease early, as is habit, and found it tough. He was unusually animated when he couldn't find his timing but with a big assist from his old friend Ross Taylor, they assessed conditions and realised that they had to recalibrate expectations from 280-plus to something closer to 260.
In the end they fell short of that modest target, but they had something to bowl to.
Pulling the strings as skipper on the second day, Williamson struck a perfect balance between all-out attack and a suffocating style of defence. At one point the best-laid plans looked vulnerable as Ravi Jadeja launched the sort of audacious counter-attack New Zealand could have used a day earlier, but Williamson's team refused to yield.
It's been such a weird tournament for New Zealand. It defies level-headed analysis.
In so many ways it remains utterly improbable that they will be lining up to sing the national anthem at Lord's this weekend, despite having yet to set or chase down an imposing total (imposing by modern standards at least).
They limped into semis on the back of three defeats – one against whichever of Australia or England they meet in the final – and many would argue that if not for a rain-out in their round-robin match against India, they would not have made the knockouts at all.
None of that matters now. Nor does the angst about Martin Guptill's form, about Tom Latham's middle-order role, or any numbers of quibbles you could find under any number of rocks.
They're 100 overs away from glory.
The understated brilliance of Williamson could just get them there. If he does it, to these eyes, he goes past Sir Richard Hadlee as our greatest ever cricketer.
Seriously though, with the bat at least, he could use a little more help.
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