When Warilla junior Nic Maddinson was suddenly without a state contract, after being dropped from an ill-fated introduction to Test cricket, the future looked uncertain.
Would he end up being a Twenty20 gun for hire? Did a stint in English County cricket beckon? Or would be left languishing in grade cricket after a Melbourne move to St Kilda?
On Friday, Maddinson reminded us of his immense talent – and future within the Australian system – with a superb 159 not out in his Sheffield Shield debut for Victoria, against Western Australia at the MCG.
Maddinson had looked extremely assured until he approached his ton.
On 92 he offered a return catch to WA quick Matthew Kelly. The chance was put down, but the ball ricocheted off the bowler to hit the stumps at the non-striker’s end, leaving another with Test experience, Glenn Maxwell out of his crease and sent packing for 57.
It fit with the theme of a season in which Maxwell has been unable to bat much in first-class cricket because of international white-ball duties. The freak dismissal didn’t stop Maddinson, who powered his way to remain unbeaten at stumps, a remarkable double century of redemption beckoning.
Victoria finished the day 3-311 against a WA team captained by Mitch Marsh, who was dropped from the Australian team for Travis Head.
Maddinson made his Test debut in the twilight of an Adelaide day-night match against South Africa in 2016.
Bowled for a 12-ball duck, he struggled to recover, playing three Tests, before being dropped after making 22 against Pakistan, the start of his career downward spiral.
In the fallout, he missed a Shield match in Wollongong for NSW and was cut by the Blues in May.
"I don't think I was ever at my best when I was given the opportunity,” he said in September.
“I think I have the skill to be back playing Test cricket again, it's just about putting into place a lot of runs in (Sheffield) Shield cricket when I get an opportunity there again and probably just changing my approach to the game. Hopefully I'm heading into the best part of my career."