David Warner struggled to get out of bed amid fears he would never play for his country again.
The damaging ball-tampering saga had seen one of world cricket’s most devastating batsmen exiled from the game’s biggest stage.
If not for his wife Candice, perhaps we would never have seen Warner back in green and gold. Perhaps we would never have seen the superstar batsman again at the peak of his powers.
But in the humble setting of the Taunton County Ground, we have seen just that.
Two-half centuries in three games were enough to suggest the flame still flickered. Now a breakthrough century (107) to steer Australia to victory over Pakistan in the Cricket World Cup has seen the weight of the world lifted off of Warner’s shoulders.
In one celebratory leap, he consigned the fears he would never play for his country again, let alone score another century, to the past.
“Yeah, definitely. There was always that [fear] going through my mind,” Warner said.
“I think that’s what drove me to keep being as fit as I can, keep scoring as many runs as I can in the Twenty20 tournaments that I was playing in.
“[I] really enjoyed going out there … and I think going through those tough times and sort of regrouping with myself to put myself in the best position to come back to international cricket, I did everything I could.
“I really, really knuckled down and trained my backside off. I’m just grateful for this opportunity and, as I said before, I’m just really looking forward to what’s coming ahead of us here in the World Cup.”
In some circles he had gone from beloved gamebreaker to public enemy No. 1 – but Warner was always coming back if he got the call.
“The thing that kept me going was my wife and my kids,” Warner said.
“Got great support at home, my family. And my wife is just, she’s just my rock. She’s unbelievable. She’s determined, disciplined, selfless.
“I hold a lot of credit to her. She’s a strong woman. And she got me out of bed a lot in those first sort of 12 weeks, and got me back running and training hard as I could, and prepared me for the other formats of the game I was playing and I did play.
“So it was just maintain my level of fitness and just hard work. And she really nailed that into me.”
Though as normality resumes with Warner and Steve Smith taking back their rightful places in Australia’s top order, questions remain over the sandpaper scandal.
The press conferences the three men involved – Warner, Smith and Cameron Bancroft – held upon their returns to Australia shed light on nothing new.
Warner repeatedly stated he was there to take responsibility for his own actions, refusing to reveal if other teammates knew – and to think they didn’t would be naive.
His spirit broken, Warner was forced to fight his way back through park cricket. That he did, now desperate to bring an end to one of Australian cricket’s most farcical chapters.
“That was my own thing. I was just focusing on playing the next game that I was playing in, training as hard as I could,” Warner said.
“I didn’t need to say anything. What was said was said back in those press conferences.
“And now it’s about looking forward.”