Mitchell Starc's road to the Magellan Ashes took another positive step on Friday night in Sydney after an improved performance in NSW's JLT One-Day Cup win over Queensland.
Starc admitted he was rusty a week ago when he finished with figures of 1-55 from 10 overs against South Australia in his first game back in four months after a foot injury, but at Drummoyne Oval he was closer to his best with 3-48.
"Everything was a lot better today than it was from the first fixture," Starc told reporters after play.
"If last week was maybe a two or a three (out of 10) then this is probably a five or a six.
"Still (far) from my best but a lot happier with how it came out, the execution was there and it felt pretty smooth and the rhythm was there."
Encouraging signs were present from ball one as the tall left-armer shaped the new ball away from Bulls opener and Test teammate Matthew Renshaw.
If that didn't excite the fans watching in person and those tuning into the live stream, the rapid bouncer he produced to cause Queensland first-drop Joe Burns to hit his own wicket would have done the trick.
His first five overs went for just 16 before he returned at the death to castle set batsman Marnus Labuschagne with a trademark yorker from around the wicket before removing century-maker Usman Khawaja caught on the midwicket fence.
"It was nice with the new ball to get some swing and build into a nice rhythm, which felt pretty good throughout the whole day compared to the first game which came late in the fixture," Starc said.
"The execution was a lot better today and I'm happy with the result and a win."
Starc will play again on Sunday against Victoria at North Sydney Oval where a win would guarantee NSW a spot in Thursday's elimination final in Hobart and potentially two extra games before the Blues' first JLT Sheffield Shield match in Adelaide on October 27.
"Hopefully (my performance is) even better again on Sunday and then we can head to Hobart and prepare for an elimination final and then a final," he said.
"Then that gives me five games if we can get to the final and hopefully it's looking really good heading into a Shield season, feeling really well and in good nick."