MELBOURNE: Once a “fat and lazy” player struggling to step up from club cricket, batsman Rob Quiney was still coming to terms with his surprise elevation to Australia's test team on Monday.
The 30-year-old left-hander will make his international debut on Friday against the most feared pace attack in the game when Australia take on South Africa at the Gabba in Brisbane.
Until two days ago, the blue-collar opener for state side Victoria, who describes himself with brutal honesty, was just another test hopeful.
That all changed on Sunday when selectors named Quiney as cover for injured all-rounder Shane Watson after he compiled an impressive 85 for Australia A against South Africa.
An unbeaten second innings knock of 11 in the face of a withering spell from paceman Dale Steyn further boosted his cause.
Quiney can expect more Steyn fireworks as he slots in at Watson's number three spot after being preferred to a number of test-experienced youngsters, including Usman Khawaja and Phillip Hughes.
“I am hoping that I can still combat (Steyn) when he goes up to fourth gear,” the late-blooming Quiney told local media.
Cutting his teeth as a park cricketer rather than as a student at an elite academy, Quiney was 25 before he made his first-class debut.
He has carved out a respectable, if not overwhelming, average of 37 from 53 matches.
With vice captain Watson's injury ruling him out of the first test, Quiney now has a golden opportunity to make an impression in a top order still struggling for cohesion, with opener Ed Cowan yet to cement his place.
“I'd never given up the dream,” Quiney said.
“Cricket comes and goes so quickly.
“If you get too hyped up and too worked up, before you know it, it's gone ... and you're back on your 'What if's?'”
Being left-handed has also played its part in Quiney's selection, with Australia coach and selector Mickey Arthur keen to try and blunt Steyn's potency.
Steyn, who has pillaged countless wickets by moving the ball away from right-handed batsmen, is likely to face three left-handers in a row with Cowan and David Warner all but assured of opening the batting.
“There's no secret Dale (Steyn) hasn't bowled well to left-handers,” South African Arthur said, before correcting himself.
“Let me rephrase that. He bowls a lot better to right handers than left handers.”