Alex Carey concedes he's still coming to grips with his rise from back-up state wicketkeeper to one of the most intriguing prospects in Australian cricket.
Fresh off a starring role in the Adelaide Strikers KFC Big Bash League title triumph, Carey has slotted in seamlessly behind the stumps in Australia's unbeaten start to their Gillette T20 tri-series against New Zealand and England.
At the beginning of this summer, the South Australian had just one T20 match to his name, one full JLT Sheffield Shield season under his belt and was seemingly behind the likes of Matthew Wade, Peter Nevill and, although few knew it, Tim Paine in the national wicketkeeping pecking order for all three formats.
Now, after Paine's equally remarkable ascension to the Test and ODI posts, Carey appears the confirmed gloveman-in-waiting in at least the two shorter formats and is undoubtedly around the mark as the back-up for the Test side.
The left-hander struck 443 runs at a tick under 50 in BBL|07, the most prolific run-scoring Big Bash campaign by a keeper, and in December notched his maiden first-class century after breaking the all-time Sheffield Shield single-season dismissals record the season prior.
"It's all happened pretty quickly," Carey said ahead of Australia's departure for Auckland, where they face New Zealand in their final group-stage game of their tri-series on Friday.
"You sit back and pinch yourself, it's all very exciting, hopefully it's just a start. But at the moment it’s a really good feeling.
"I felt like I've worked really hard the last couple of years to get where I want to be but I've still got a long way to go.
"I've loved it. It's a dream come true playing for my country."
While Paine sealed his spot in the Test and ODI sides following a tidy summer both behind the stumps and with the bat, Carey’s dominant BBL campaign and assured start to his international career will have selectors pondering who to entrust with the gloves long-term in the shortest format.
Paine will be weeks out from his 36th birthday when the final of the next World T20 is held in November 2020. Although seniority has proved a virtue rather than a hindrance in T20 cricket, keeping in all three formats over the next few years will be a gruelling physical task and Australia will be mindful of helping Paine ward off another serious finger injury.
Carey, six-and-a-half years Paine's junior, isn't looking too far into the distance.
"I don't think (I'm) comfortable, you're never really comfortable," he said.
"I'm sure there's going to be some more T20 (International) cricket but I don't know how that looks … leading into series. Let's finish this series off well and just take it series by series.
"T20 cricket is really strong in Australia and it's only getting better with the Big Bash and guys getting picked up in the IPL. We've got some fantastic short form players."
Carey has only been required once so far this series with the bat, but his efforts proved vital in helping Glenn Maxwell reach a rare T20 century in Hobart last week.
Needing two to win with 12 balls left, Carey found himself being urged by Maxwell – on 97 – to end the game without concern for his teammate's milestone. Carey ignored him and says Maxwell's grateful gesture in the days after his second T20I hundred highlights the strong camaraderie of the makeshift squad.
"He said 'finish the game off, I'm cooked, I can't swing my bat anymore'," Carey recounted with a smile.
"I was like, 'yeah no worries mate, I'll do it for you.' But I was never going to hit a two.
"Then he went down to Kookaburra and he sent me message saying, 'do you want me to pick you out a new bat?' I said, 'yeah, that'd be great.'
"I got to training and he lobbed in with this thing, I thought the bat was pretty average but the writing on it was awesome.
"It was a nice gesture of 'Maxi' and I think that just shows that the group's really close, we're having a lot of fun at the moment.
"Winning is helping that but even if we're (weren't), the group's really excited, really close and for someone like Maxi to do that for a guy like me in a short space of time just shows that we've got some really good blokes in the side."
Trans-Tasman T20 Tri-Series
First T20I Australia beat New Zealand by seven wickets. Scorecard
Second T20I Australia beat England by five wickets. Scorecard
Third T20I Australia beat England by seven wickets. Scorecard
Fourth T20I New Zealand beat England by 12 runs. Scorecard
Fifth T20I NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16
Sixth T20I NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18
Final TBC, Eden Park, February 21
Australia squad: David Warner (c), Aaron Finch (vc), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Ben Dwarshuis, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.
England squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, David Willey, Mark Wood.
New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Tom Bruce, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Anaru Kitchen, Colin Munro, Seth Rance, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Ben Wheeler.