It has been an arduous journey back to international cricket for Doug Bracewell.
The 28-year-old all-rounder hit the big time in only his second Test in 2011, when he took 6-40 in Hobart to bowl New Zealand to a rare victory over Australia.
But in the years since he has played 26 more Tests, 16 One Day Internationals and 18 Twenty20 matches without ever cementing a place in any format of the game.
A combination of setbacks, including injuries, a lack of faith by selectors and some misguided off-field incidents had seemingly derailed Doug’s career.
But last Friday night at Eden Park, he cast aside any lingering doubts within himself, the selectors and New Zealand’s fickle sporting public with a man-of-the-match performance against Sri Lanka.
With the Black Caps teetering at 55-5, Doug blasted a career-high 44 from 26 balls, took a wicket with his first delivery and nabbed two catches.
It was just rewards after he was inexplicably left out of the playing 11 in all three ODIs against Sri Lanka, with the selectors giving Matt Henry the nod.
Doug grew up playing cricket in Tauranga with Trent Boult and Kane Williamson.
He attended Pillans Point School, Te Puna School and Tauranga Intermediate before moving to Hawke’s Bay. Kane was a classmate at Pillans Point School, with Trent sharing the new ball at Tauranga Intermediate.
Doug is from arguably New Zealand’s finest cricketing family.
His father Brendon and uncle John are both former Black Caps and two other uncles - Doug and Mark - also played first class cricket. All four attended Tauranga Boys’ College.
Mark’s son Michael is in career best form for Wellington and considered a future Black Cap in white ball cricket.
The ball is literally in Doug’s court.
He should get opportunities against India in the ODI series later this month, as he looks to clinch a place in the squad to contest the ICC Cricket World Cup to be played in England from May 30 to July 14.
With India set to play two ODIs against the Black Caps at Mount Maunganui’s Bay Oval on January 26 and 28, there is a good chance the three Tauranga boys - Doug, Trent and Kane - will all play together in their home town.
Now that is something for Western Bay fans to look forward to.