Arjun Nair was in so much pain he could barely eke out three or four overs at a time.
Stress fractures in his back threatened the derail the spinner's budding career just months after he had rewired his bowling action following a 90-day ban.
When he did come back to bowl he was wrapped in rolls of strapping tape, frustrated by a voice in the back of his mind suggesting his hard work could count for little when he eventually lost his NSW contract.
Today the 22-year-old is pain free, maturing as a player, and aiming high ahead of his Sydney Thunder return in the Big Bash League.
Now Nair is adamant he can be "the kind of player who can take the game forward" as the Thunder prepare to open their campaign against the Melbourne Stars on Saturday.
"Obviously in early 2018 my action was reported, and then my stress fractures started. Last year I had a lot of pain while bowling, I still had a lot of strapping done while playing," Nair said.
"This is the first year I'm pain free in two years, in terms of that it's very exciting. I'm very happy with where my cricket is at. Now it's just about getting the opportunity.
"I don't know exactly how and where I'll get my opportunity, whether it's from the start or if I come in midway through the tournament.
"From my point of view I'm ready to go, and I feel the best I have felt physically in the past few years. Skill-wise and career-wise, I'm 22 now so I'm maturing as a player, so I think my cricket is at its best stage right now.
"I always aim high and I always back myself. If I get the opportunity to play, I'm always going to back myself in the games in any situation, no matter how tough it looks.
"I want to be the kind of player who can take the game forward."
Nair will look to do just that for a Thunder outfit which boasts the equal-longest odds to lift the trophy - admittedly, the unpredictable nature of the BBL means they're only paying a tenner.
They will launch their campaign against a team at the other end of the spectrum. The Stars enter as the tournament favourites.
Nair is confident the Thunder can start their tournament with a bang against a Stars side which launches its title charge the night prior against Brisbane.
Melbourne's clash with the Heat under Manuka's famed diamonds in the sky marks the first of six games in Canberra this season, as Nair returns to his city of birth and adjusts to life in a BBL hub.
"On paper people might think we don't look as strong because we don't have the big names," Nair said.
"We've built good combinations, special players, good depth. We might be a dark horse in a few eyes, but I think we'll come out strong.
"We're starting to get used to playing with each other, obviously the majority of us have been playing together for the past couple of years. We've got some new faces in the group so we're just trying to gel and create that team culture."
BBL IN CANBERRA
Friday, December 11 - Melbourne Stars v Brisbane Heat at Manuka Oval, 7.15pm
Saturday, December 12 - Melbourne Stars v Sydney Thunder at Manuka Oval, 4.05pm
Monday, December 14 - Sydney Thunder v Brisbane Heat at Manuka Oval, 7.15pm
Tuesday, December 22 - Sydney Thunder v Perth Scorchers at Manuka Oval, 7.15pm
Saturday, December 26 - Sydney Thunder v Melbourne Renegades at Manuka Oval, 6.10pm
Tuesday, December 29 - Sydney Thunder v Melbourne Stars at Manuka Oval, 7.15pm