We're playing a game. It's called your dream. Close your eyes. Allow yourself to drift. Just remember that this is about cricket, so if you're dreaming of doing a Gareth Bale in the Champions League final this game is not for you.
It's fine, take your time. Now, in your dream, what is it that you see yourself doing, the one thing that you really, dearly want to be doing as a cricketer? If you see yourself hitting the last ball of a game for six to win it, that is acceptable. Not entirely cool because batsmen are the establishment, but T20's made batting cool enough so it's allowed.
If you see yourself pulling off one of those one-man relay catches on the boundary to prevent the six that would win a game, fine, props to you and your hipsterism. You're probably from New Zealand.
But if you don't close your eyes and see yourself sauntering in off about ten steps, fat chain bobbing around your neck, and so gently that you could be delivering the morning mail, and instead you're hurling cricket balls at 90+mph, then you're not allowed to dream. You're not allowed in cricket and frankly, you should ask yourself whether you're human.
Jofra Archer is that dream. Nobody dreams of the all-effort, heavy clunk to the crease of Liam Plunkett, for example, effective as he is. Long, bounding run-ups like Waqar's, or Shoaib's or Holding's have their place in our hearts and souls but it's acknowledged that it clearly is hard work. You dream of being all loose and easy and unburdened by the obvious toils of fast bowling, like this occupation that literally breaks bodies is nothing. And then you just go, as Thommo had it, whang.
You dream, in other words, of running in like Archer. And then you dream of bowling like he did at The Oval today. You retire-hurt batsmen with your bouncers and even in your dreams you don't do it having tweeted all the way back in 2013: "All batsmen buy 2 helmets cause went we meet they will be in use .." You dream of hurrying them on the hook and pull, or being so quick that you're catching their edge before they're really through with the stroke. You dream of breaking stumps and toes but even in dreams you've got to leave a little bit for your next dream and not get too greedy.
It's necessary to note here the pace Archer generated. This was not, contrary to most pre-match expectations, a quick pitch. It was slow, one of those annoying, fidgety ones on which most smart quick bowlers recognise that pace off the ball is the way to go. It took Lungi Ngidi six or seven overs to work it out and when he did, he was an entirely different bowler - and it is entirely normal for someone playing his first World Cup game. That's still quick learning. It was the kind of pitch on which, no disrespect, Andile Phehlukwayo was a really good bowler; the kind on which you thought, halfway through, that Plunkett would be good because that is exactly what he does. And he did, ending up with the two big but filthy wickets.
Archer called bullshit on all this, which is precisely the kind of streak you want in your fast bowler. In that first spell, barely anything he bowled was less than 87mph. It was accurate, which is important, but it was the pace that caught you. On the other side was Kagiso Rabada, the big dog of fast bowling today, also languid, also easy, also quick, and sure he should've had the new ball, but Archer made you forget he was even there.
In this tournament of all tournaments, where we're realistically talking about 500, comparing the best ways to get to 350, and forcing ourselves to appreciate bowling figures in new ways (no, really, 2-87 is good) this was an essential, stirring statement. Fast bowling works, especially the kind that blows batsmen away: 3-27 off seven, a wicket maiden, this told us, are not only game-breaking figures but ones that can still happen. It told us it's okay to still dream.
Frighteningly, once Archer had done all that, he returned briefly to show off his other tricks, a glimpse of the range that has lit up T20 leagues across the world. He's only bowled his full quota of overs once in four ODIs so that stuff is still to come - but you can see why it's been thought that he can bowl through any phase of a 50-over innings. Imagine, after all this, that he might not even have been picked.
This game, and these last few weeks, have caught him in that moment, perched on an edge where behind him is everything you've read and heard about him, but only the unfinished glimpses you have caught of him in some league somewhere. Ahead of him is the horizon into which he leaps, unbound and unending in its possibilities, where all that is behind him that you haven't seen turns into the reality that you will see. It is a delicious time and place to be in.
Savour it because soon he will become familiar, not just to us, but to opponents. Faf du Plessis talked of the problem of not having faced him much ahead of the game and repeated it post-defeat. The pace, yes, but the action mostly, which, while it isn't unconventional in the way Jasprit Bumrah's is, still takes some getting used to. Ten steps, small quick steps yet unhurried, close in to the umpire, a strong shoulder and then quick arm, it'll become clear. They'll understand, as just one example, that the shorter ball is quicker than his others and perhaps not always that short either.
All that for later though, because like the best dreams, this is one you don't want to wake up from just yet.