The implausible classiness of these twins is a true biological freak. I wonder if their father, watching them calmly stroking fours, ever casts his mind back to the time when they were children. "Boys, boys, how many times do I have to say it? Stop squabbling for heaven's sake. No, your bats are exactly the same. I don't care if Mark's got bigger pads - he's taller. Well, I'm sorry, you've got to learn to take turns. You are on the same team, remember. No, we're not playing one hand, one bounce. Because. I know, I know. Jesus, how many times..."
They were at it again yesterday. Mark even whacked a ball into his brother's helmet, as if to remind him how things used to be.
It was that kind of day. Zimbabwe's batsmen - Neil Johnson and Murray Goodwin leading the way - made an extremely brave fist of setting about Australia's daunting total, and in so doing exposed a worrying frailty in the Australian bowling attack: if McGrath doesn't deliver early wickets, they lack teeth.
However, the result was rarely in doubt, so the spectators were left to ponder side issues, such as the value of a format that could allow Zimbabwe, on the strength of three wins (and two rainy days) in eight games, to secure a berth in the semi-finals.
Even the pummelling they suffered against Australia may not be enough to deny them a shot at the knock-out phase. It is hard to begrudge them their happy position: they did beat both of the sides that beat England, after all - and they gave Australia a good run for their money. But going into yesterday's match we had a situation in which India, who had produced five century-makers so far, looked doomed, while Zimbabwe looked safe. Oh well.
There have been strangely few close finishes in this World Cup - three, to be precise. India and Zimbabwe went down to the wire, so too did Australia and Pakistan; and South Africa pulled one out of the fire when Lance Klusener clobbered the last few overs to secure an improbable win against Pakistan.
No one is to blame: it's just the way things have turned out. Yesterday's match was characteristic, a succession of impressive cameos (Neil Johnson hitting Shane Warne for four fours in an over on his way to a historic hundred) which somehow had little bearing on the result.
Of all the factors that have made this a slightly low-throttle World Cup, this scarcity of tight climaxes is the decisive one. One-day cricket is all about end-games, but most of this tournament's winners have strolled over the finishing line with their hands in their pockets.
It does rather seem, as a result, that the competition might be remembered mainly for its amazing number of wides and for the bizarre concentration of golden ducks: 18, so far. Those jokey first-ball clubs will have to get some extra ties made. Quite what they have been putting in the batsmen's pre- innings isotonic drinks is anyone's guess.Reuse content