Shane Watson was supposed to have been finished. The Sydney Thunder captain is widely regarded as one of the nicest people in Australian cricket, so no-one wanted to say it too loudly, but all signs were pointing toward the exit.
It had been a hell of a career. World Cup triumphs. An Ashes whitewash. And much between. But the numbers just weren't adding up.
Aside from a one-off knock of 55, BBL|06 had been a bust. In fact, his other five innings hadn't tallied 50 runs.
This year's Indian Premier League had been poorer still: 71 runs in seven innings at 11.83, with a best of 24.
He went to the Caribbean Premier League, hoping a change of scene might serve him well, but the runs drought followed; outside of a brief sparkle in the form of a one-off 80, he made 79 runs at 13.17 as the suggestion he was a fading force grew a little louder.
A hamstring problem then resulted in him missing out on the Bangladesh Premier League so instead he geared up for BBL|07 with his Sydney Premier Cricket club Sutherland.
It proved a godsend. At the beginning of October he smashed 184 from 151 deliveries, and backed it up with 114no from just 53 balls in a T20 knockout match. They were startling performances, with 25 sixes across the two trips to the crease, and Watson clearly felt rejuvenated.
"It's been a lot of fun to be able to get back to where it all started for me, playing grade cricket," he told cricket.com.au after the second hundred.
"I'm definitely more well prepared (for Big Bash) than what I was last year. I've had plenty of time to be able to make sure that (my hamstring) is right."
A few weeks later, the 36-year-old stands triumphant as the leading run-scorer in BBL|07, having added to his sensational 77 in the Sydney Smash with a breathtaking 56 from 34 balls at the Gabba on Wednesday night. And while it was ultimately all part of a lost cause against a rampant Heat, Watson also took the key wicket of Chris Lynn with his first delivery, snared a catch in the outfield, and celebrated both as if he was a wide-eyed debutant.
"He looks in career-best form at the moment," said Ben Rohrer of his skipper. "The thing we've noticed around the group is he's so clear in what he wants to do.
"That's been a real focus for him – to have that clarity of mind when he's batting, just to see the ball and hit the ball. It's working very well.
"He's played so much cricket now, he knows what he's trying to do. You see with the ball – he came on and took a wicket with his first ball.
"He's been through every situation there is, and there's no way to teach that – it just comes with time."
Watson was non-committal in the pre-season about whether this campaign will mark the last in the 36-year-old's BBL career, however another experienced head in the Thunder set-up, Callum Ferguson, sees no reason why he should call it quits.
"He's striking the ball beautifully, as we saw tonight and we saw in the first game," Ferguson told cricket.com.au. "He's got another couple (of seasons) in him, and his body is holding up well with his bowling – he's feeling great and that's a great sign for us going forward in this tournament."