Uncapped Bulls batsman Sam Truloff will have a keener eye than most on Australia's Test squad announcement next month.
Not because he has any inkling of what would be the unlikeliest Test call-up in living memory, but due to the impact it looks likely to have on Queensland's JLT One-Day Cup side.
If Usman Khawaja, Matthew Renshaw and Joe Burns are all selected in the Test squad, half of the state's top six – and potentially even the first three in the batting order – the trio would be unavailable beyond likely the first match of the tournament, leaving coach Wade Seccombe with some holes to plug.
Enter Truloff, the right-hander who has nine first-class matches to his name but is yet to play List A cricket.
The 25-year-old spent a good chunk of the winter honing his skills in Darwin, playing grade cricket with Nightcliff Tigers and then in the Strike League with Northern Tide.
Far from the notion of hit and giggle, Truloff headed to the Northern Territory with a plan.
"I wanted a base game, and a defensive game, that I could really trust," he told cricket.com.au. "Last year, from what I looked at in terms of stats and with the coaches, I had no problems scoring.
"But it was (for) those periods where the bowler was staying in the same spot for longer, I wanted a defensive game that I was comfortable with and could back.
"I made a few little technical changes. My scoring shots take care of themselves, so for me it's just about staying out there long enough to be able to do it, and that comes back to having a defensive game I know is going to succeed."
Truloff was disciplined and determined through his eight-week stay, working hard on his strength and fitness and linking up with former South Australia coach Mark Sorell, who fed him countless balls over umpteen hours.
The runs came freely – including a double-century in one match and a century in another, both at a strike-rate exceeding 100 – but he was more concerned with nailing the fundamentals, which he feels confident he accomplished.
"(Sorell) was a sounding board for me from outside the system which was good, because he was just blatantly honest with me – this is working, this isn't working," he said.
"I played some more clinical innings, where to be honest I didn't actually feel like I was going to get out.
"I felt really comfortable with my defensive game and shot selection, so it was good to see some results from what I'd been working on in the nets and at training."
As a standout player at Under-19s level, Truloff's ascension to state cricket had been met with no shortage of local expectation, however his performances in JLT Sheffield Shield cricket have to date been underwhelming. In Darwin, he took a lot from a conversation with Jake Doran – another batsman who had been highly-touted before initially struggling to make his mark on the first-class scene.
"Expectation can go either way," he said. "I'm my toughest critic. I was looking for (problems) that I didn't have to look for.
"I had a really good conversation with Jake about a few different things. I'd read an article where he'd said that every time something didn't work for him in an innings, he went looking for change.
"He changed his game six or seven times through a season, instead of knowing what he did really well and having that base to build his game around.
"So he had some really interesting insights."
Truloff knows next month's one-day tournament is his next shot. He spoke with Queensland coaching staff at the end of last summer with an eye to this season, and they decided he would be best placed working on opening the batting, given the possibly prolonged absences of Renshaw, Burns and Khawaja through the summer.
"I opened the batting the whole time up in Darwin and I've opened throughout our practice games and squad games (in recent weeks) as well," he said.
"I feel like it helps make my game better; if I can open the batting against the new ball, with the bowlers at their freshest, it's going to make batting in the middle order a little easier I think.
"It also gives Queensland a bit of flexibility in terms of how they want to use me, whether they've got guys away or a full squad."
Truloff believes his game is better suited to the white-ball formats at this stage, and feels better placed to tackle the domestic scene than he did a year ago.
"I think there's definitely been some improvements, and even in the practice games and scenario stuff we've been doing, I feel comfortable in areas I probably struggled in last year," he said.
"A few little things still need tinkering but overall base game I'm pretty happy with at the moment.
"I've come back fitter and stronger than what I was at the end of a full pre-season last year as well … so that's definitely the goal – I want to play as much as I can for Queensland."