Statistics have not always been kind to Cameron White, certainly not in the past two years in which he plummeted not just from the Australian Twenty20 captaincy, but from both its limited-overs teams.
In the past three months, however, they have: his 16 limited-overs matches have produced 834 runs at an average of 83.4. White's shedding of the tortured, tentative player he became over much of that period continued on Wednesday when he started the Sheffield Shield season with an authoritative 83 for Victoria at home to Western Australia.
Until the last session at the MCG the 30-year-old's fine form was the key talking point of interest. By stumps it had a legitimate rival: the Bushrangers' capitulation from a robust 3-194 at tea to be dismissed for 312 in the last hour.
In response, WA made 0-19 from the four overs it faced in its unexpected turn with the bat on day one. Earlier left-armer Jason Behrendorff (4-62) had been the best of the Warriors' bowlers, with recent Test debutant Ashton Agar expensive and rarely threatening.
The home team's collapse, which ended with 6-54, owed more to undisciplined strokes. Across the whole innings White and opener Rob Quiney (0) were the only Bushrangers batsmen not to fit that category, with Peter Handscomb the biggest offender. His lob to deep mid-on tarnished a half-century that, excepting a life in the slips from Marcus North on 23, had been conspicuously assured. Chris Rogers (36), David Hussey (44) and new captain Matthew Wade (33) would also rue their shot selection.
''It's an OK score. We're a bit disappointed. We definitely left some runs out there,'' White said. In regards to the manner of the dismissals, the former captain agreed ''some of the guys are a little bit disappointed, but that's cricket''. Opening bowler Behrendorff said the Warriors benefited from snaring ''some crucial wickets at the right times''. ''It was a good fightback … it was nice to finish off the day and not have to bowl tomorrow morning,'' he said.
First-time WA captain Shaun Marsh's decision to send Victoria in to bat in overcast conditions produced the early wicket of Quiney but little else.
Seamers Behrendorff, Nate Rimmington and Michael Hogan were diligent but were generally handled well until the second half of the day.
Rogers was making his first appearance at home since his impressive Ashes series but his contribution was clearly overshadowed by that of 22-year-old Handscomb, who consistently struck the ball sweetly. Veteran Rogers' strokeplay was rusty after a month-long break. He still boasted a soft-handed defensive approach that prevented at least two early edges carrying to the slips. The only time his characteristic composure failed him was when he spooned a catch to point early in the second session.
To say White's polished contribution was unexpected would be unfair to him, given he managed a creditable 510 runs in the shield last season. It would also ignore the fact that over the past three months not only did he win the Ryobi Cup player of the year award but in his 16 innings for Victoria, Hyderabad and Northamptonshire he passed 25 in all but one innings.
''From a personal point of view my game's in a good place,'' he said on the eve of the match. ''But I think it has been for a fair while.''
When White is in form his long hitting is always a key trait.
While that was evident against the Warriors - he scored seven boundaries, and was particularly harsh on left-arm spinner Agar - his rotation of the strike and ability to find gaps in the field was conspicuously good.