It was nearly a masterly performance. On his first day in the job, Ambassador Arthur B. Culvahouse Jnr did a magnificent impersonation of one of those great but solid batsmen who can block for days - but who then tripped over his own stumps.
The press pack tried googlies. He blocked them. Then they brought on spin. He blocked that, too. It was magnificent.
But then the mis-hit. As he told of his pleasure at being in Canberra, he referred to Burley Campbell. He might have meant Burley Griffin, the American architect who designed the Australian capital and whose name lives on in the lake at its heart.
It was a slip by a newbie still feeling his way.
But, for the most part, the new American ambassador to Australia looked nervous but batted with sure-footedness as all sorts of questions about China and the Middle East and North Korea were fired in. They might not have been on target but he smashed them into the dirt all the same. His wicket was never in danger - except from his own feet.
What were his thoughts on the fate of the Australian citizen, Julian Assange, holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London but with questions to answer in the United States about any role in the Trump election campaign?
One for the Department of Justice in Washington, responded the ambassador. He wasn't going to wave his bat at that one.
North Korea had nuclear missiles capable of reaching Australia - was that still a threat?
"I don't know," came the firm response and another dangerous ball was padded away.
The diplomat was, well, diplomatic, and that, in its way, was refreshing. He looked nervous and trod carefully. If you imagine Americans to be all in the Trump mould of bluster and bombast, that was not Ambassador Culvahouse's style.
He is a lawyer from Tennessee and exudes some of that southern politeness. He is a Republican, as lawyers from the southern states often are, and he is one of those southern Republican lawyers on whom Republican presidents sometimes rely as a safe pair of hands.
Ronald Reagan did so when he appointed Mr Culvahouse as Counsel to the President in 1987, a lawyer's role which demanded highly attuned political antennae combined with a legal eagle's eye for traps in the small print.
President Trump sought his advice to vet candidates for a running mate in the election in 2016.
Under the American system, ambassadors, apart from those in a few major capitals like Beijing, are often chosen by the president as a reward. Brightness is an advantage but so is loyalty. Democrats often appoint Democrats and Republicans often appoint Republicans.
In Canberra, Ambassador Culvahouse admitted that he was not a professional diplomat. He hadn't been trained in the trade.
He said that when he had been offered the job, he had taken the trouble to come to Canberra to see if he liked it. He did and decided that the job was for him.
He was unanimously confirmed as Ambassador to the Commonwealth of Australia by Congress in Washington on January 3, and this Wednesday morning, he formally presented his credentials to the Governor-General in the Australian capital.
He returned to the embassy in a Rolls-Royce to talk to the press in the open air, with a backdrop of two Stars and Stripes banners floating gently from the residence.
He seemed genuinely thrilled by the Roller and its escort of four officers on BMW motorbikes. "Riding in Her Majesty's Rolls-Royce was something for a farm boy from Tennessee. I could never imagine such an honour," he said.
As he got out of the black limo, one of the reporters shouted "G'day" but got no response.
At the end of the conference, another asked, "Are you excited or nervous?"
"Both," Ambassador Culvahouse replied.
The single, sharp syllable was the most confident shot he played.