Glenn Maxwell was struggling to breathe after his bizarre dismissal on the second day of Victoria's JLT Sheffield Shield clash with South Australia.
Not because he might have thought his Magellan Ashes chances had just gone up in smoke after getting out for 60, or anxiety that he'd opened the door for a potent Redbacks bowling attack that later took five quick wickets to leave the clash evenly poised.
But rather because Maxwell had just worn a Daniel Worrall short ball right in the sternum, a plan for evasive action gone wrong that saw the rebound onto his glove and trickle onto the stumps.
Maxwell was in obvious discomfort as he left the MCG, and threw his gloves down in frustration as he crossed the rope having dug in so well only to be dismissed in the final over before tea.
Facing Worrall with a break imminent was something Maxwell had endured before, recalling a pink-ball clash where the Victorian had worn several blows on the body to protect his wicket rather than risk a shot.
"Having been in that position against Frankie (Worrall) before … he bowled to me in a pink-ball game last over of day, same field, all I did was turn my back and let the ball hit me repeatedly in the body. I got through that night and I had the same plan for today, unfortunately I went to duck, the ball didn't quite get up, so I decided to chest it.
"Unfortunately it just clipped my glove on way down and hit the stumps. Got me right in the chest, next to the sternum. It's making breathing a bit hard."
Maxwell said he found speculation over the vacancy at No.6 in Australia's Test team "funny": "Whoever makes fifty is all of a sudden in great nick, whoever makes a hundred is the next picked, you can't do anything about it but laugh," the incumbent Test allrounder said.
"I haven't spoken to (the Test selectors), it doesn't really concern me too much. Hopefully they pick me because I'd love to play, but I'm just trying to do as much as I can for Victoria at the moment."
Against a potent Redbacks attack Maxwell was quite circumspect early – at one stage just 16 from 63 balls faced with only one boundary – as a straight line kept him tied down.
But what pleased Maxwell most – and what is likely to please Australia's selection panel – is how Victoria's No.3 trusted his defence to put on a 120-run partnership with centurion Marcus Harris.
"It was nice to spend a bit of time out in the middle and put a big partnership on with Harry out there – he batted beautifully," Maxwell said.
"We thought we could really dominate the game but unfortunately losing those wickets there at the end of the day just put a dampener on what should have been a really dominant day for us."
Maxwell, who has reverted to a more upright technique after a winter playing on the low and slow subcontinent pitches, said he still had room to improve with the opening Ashes Test just 18 days away.
"What I'm doing is working," he said. "The advantage of playing at the MCG is you get replays so I'm able to watch what I'm doing ball by ball almost and re-evaluate from there.
"I'm still working on a few things and not totally happy with what I'm doing.
"But I'm still working to get better and make sure that I can become the finished product at some stage."
Maxwell, for all his reputation as a swashbuckling boundary clearer, was pleased to occupy the MCG crease for a long stretch.
"This past 12 months I've been extremely confident in my defence especially against fast bowling - just making sure that I've been tight and there's no gaps there," he said.
"I think that's probably shone through ... I've looked a lot more comfortable at the crease and been able to be involved in partnerships."