The league stage still has several days to go, so perhaps it would make logical sense to save this review of the World Cup for after the tournament ends. Only, we don't much care for logic around here. So here's the Briefing's massively premature review of the World Cup.
Motto: "We didn't choke, though, did we?"
Didn't they, though? It wasn't the dramatic, all-consuming, monster choke we have come to expect from South Africa. But in the high-pressure matches against Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and New Zealand, there were definite moments in which they cracked, producing match-defining errors. It was as if their traditional mega choke was chopped up into tiny bits and thrown over the whole of their campaign, like so much choke confetti. Many expected them to only start screwing up towards the end of the tournament, but in becoming the first team to be properly knocked out, South Africa can also be said to have choked at choking.
High point: Pics of a shirtless Faf du Plessis from warm-up games of football. Dude is chiselled. He wants you to know.
Low point: Ex-boyfriend AB de Villiers sending that late "U up?" text to South Africa's selectors the night before the selectors were due to make a serious commitment to another player.
Motto: "Gulbadin's Gulbadins"
Gulbadin Naib bowls. Gulbadin bats. Gulbadin fields. Gulbadin captains. Gulbadin is love. Gulbadin is life.
He's opening the batting in a World Cup despite barely having batted there before. He's bowling crucial overs although he is at best the fifth bowler in the side. He's taking batting reviews despite clearly having nicked the ball to the keepers. He's using up bowling reviews despite the fact that people looking in the general direction of the stadium for hundreds of kilometres around know it's not out.
Gulbadin is supposed to merely be the head of this team. The pilot of the aircraft, so to speak. But he has also made himself co-pilot, walks up and down the aisles with food and beverages, makes every one of the announcements, and comes out and flexes his muscles at the front of the cabin for the passengers' entertainment.
High point: Almost beating Pakistan.
Low point: Almost beating Pakistan.
Motto: "Excellence junkies"
Why are you doing this? Please stop. Pakistan and Sri Lanka still mythologise 1992 and 1996. The 1983 win held a special place in Indian hearts for 28 years. You've won so many World Cups, you don't actually even care about them anymore. In two months' time, when the Ashes are in full swing, no one will remember whether you won it or not. Take it easy for once. You're supposed to be just coming out of a year of turmoil, for crying out loud.
High point: The Mitchell Starc yorker that practically phased through alternative dimensions before making an eruption of Ben Stokes' stumps.
Low point: Steve Smith having to pretend he was grateful to Virat Kohli for stopping the ball-tampering taunts, when in reality, Smith does not seem to care in any way.
Motto: "The World Cup savers"
Abysmal pretty much right through the tournament, except for that one game in which they beat England, doing the World Cup league stage a massive favour, as it helped ensure other teams were in contention for a semi-final spot. Give these terrible fellows a medal.
High point: Lasith Malinga's belly wobbling rhythmically to the papare music in the stands at Headingley, on that magical England-beating afternoon.
Low point: A middle order that bats so slowly, the scoreboard goes into reverse.
Motto: "Trying to remind you that Shakib exists"
For parts of the English media and some commentators, no cricket takes place in the world when England is not playing. So imagine their surprise when Shakib Al Hasan, who has been the top-ranked ODI allrounder since pretty much the Triassic period, has started to carve this World Cup up. Seeing Shakib at the top of the ODI run charts has prompted serious amazement. It's like this guy, who has been Bangladesh's talisman for over a decade, has only now popped out of the ground.
High point: The loudest fans in the tournament.
Low point: The loss to India. It hasn't happened yet. But we pretty much all know it will.
Motto: "Team time machine"
You've heard all the ways that this campaign is similar to Pakistan's run to the trophy in 1992. Yet in some ways, this 2019 campaign seems even more insane, because Pakistan had a genuinely woeful record in the months leading into the tournament; they weren't quite so bad in 1992.
They beat England, eased past New Zealand, then nearly threw it all away against Afghanistan. What crazy, fateful route will they take from here on in? My bet is that they lose to Bangladesh, and are seemingly knocked out, but the moment they land in Pakistan, they are informed two teams have been disqualified for doping, let's say, and they immediately return and win the tournament.
High point: They haven't got there yet.
Low point: This also, they probably haven't got to yet.
Motto: "Falling heroically short"
Through the course of the tournament, West Indies have perfected the art of getting into good positions, then swiftly getting out of them. They had Australia at 79 for 5, then 147 for 6, before letting them surge to 288. They seemed to have the measure of that chase at 190 for 4, before going on to lose by 15 runs.
They needed just one more Carlos Brathwaite six to win the match against New Zealand, but he holed out at last gasp.
They also made 321 against Bangladesh, but lost that because of the batting of this new, unheard of guy called Shakib.
Andre Russell limped his way through much of this, trying to convince people he was not injured, even though at times he looked like he needed one of those walking aids for seniors.
High point: Thrashing Pakistan first up.
Low point: Everything else.
Motto: "Rapidly deflating"
Real talk, New Zealand. You're the only team from outside the Big Three with a near certain chance of getting into those semis. You've won your public over with three years of consistently good cricket. You've won the rest of the world over with your toothy smiles and your kindly tweets and your tender bum pats and your Nobel Prize-level cricketing niceness. Don't do what you always do. Don't mess it up from here.
High point: Kane Williamson and Jimmy Neesham's batting.
Low point: Everyone else's batting.
Motto: "We need to talk about… that former captain"
India have been so good, they should be in the final on July 14. But do we need to talk about the performance of that one great player who is just maybe, just possibly, past producing the innings we love him for having once produced? Can we talk about how many balls he soaks up before he starts rotating the strike and scoring properly? The momentum he is sapping from most India innings?
High point: Jasprit Bumrah. He has been the best bowler at this World Cup without even having to take wickets. Kind of a hard thing to do.
Low point: Given the way he hasn't been finishing innings like he used to, it's more like MS Phoney. Amirite?
England are deservedly the No. 1 ODI cricket team in the universe, in the sense that almost all planets in existence do not have living things, and England are amazing in conditions that are completely lifeless.
High point: Finally getting a pitch to their liking, at Edgbaston against India.
Low point: Coming across any surface that has seam movement, spin, slowness, undue fastness, undue bounce, reverse swing potential, or slower-ball envenomation...