Unwanted for much of the summer, Tauranga's Graeme Aldridge showed the selectors what they'd been missing as the Northern Knights won their fifth domestic one-day title in Saturday's State Shield final in Hamilton.
In a day for two of New Zealand domestic cricket's senior statesmen, Aldridge and Northland's Joseph Yovich were at the heart of the Knight's stellar win.
Both boasting more than a decade of achievement for Northern, Yovich, 32, and Aldridge, the Bay of Plenty 31-year-old, chose the final at Seddon Park to produce a clutch of individual bests as an under-strength Otago were overwhelmed by 49 runs.
Yovich and Aldridge _ who have come close but never worn New Zealand colours _ were contented figures as celebrations kicked off in the changing sheds.
Unlikely batting hero Aldridge enjoyed reflecting on his fourth one-day final success.
"It was great to play a part, with bat as well as the ball, because you always want to perform in the big games," he said yesterday, where the celebrations were continuing with a party and beers at his house.
"I got man of the match the last time we won (in 2005) but this was more of an all-round display."
Aldridge's 36 off 39 balls was vital as he and Yovich scored the bulk of the 97 runs whacked off the final 10 overs. Aldridge then produced career-best figures with the ball, claiming five for 39 as Otago were dismissed for 189 with 27 balls remaining.
Man-of-the-match Aldridge was making just his fourth appearance of a campaign in which Northern lost only three of 11 matches. He was even sent down to the provincial A tournament with ND, unable to crack the province's top side.
"When you've got Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Bradley Scott and Brent Arnel, it's been pretty a tough summer to get a run, which I suppose made yesterday even more satisfying.
"I got thrown a chance with Trent over in Aussie _ I might not have got a run otherwise. It's just been a case of working hard in the nets, knowing that if I was chucked in I had to take my opportunity."
Yovich hit an unbeaten 78 off 76 balls as Northern reached 238 for nine, his best score in 96 domestic one-day matches. Former Northern pace bowler Ian Butler virtually fought a lone hand for Otago, taking five for 55 and striking 44 off 23 balls as he launched a late bid for victory.
However, his side suffered through the absence of three key batsmen on New Zealand duty _ captain Craig Cumming, Brendon McCullum and Neil Broom.
As with Northern, none of the Otago batsmen could advance beyond 30 on slow-paced pitch.
"I knew if we could get near 200 it gave us a chance and everything from there was a bonus," Yovich said.
"I was able to work towards the power play with Graeme and get as many runs off that as we could."
Otago's cause wasn't helped by a sloth-like 17 off 70 balls from the usually-brutal English import Dimitri Mascarenhas. Although stopping short of saying the Seddon Park was tailor-made for his medium-pace, Aldridge conceded his experience on the ground counted when it came to delivering the knockout blow.
"With bowling, I wasn't trying to take too much pace off it, just bowl into a wicket that was slow and stopping a bit. I wasn't focused on swinging it or trying to get too much movement."
All sides now switch attention to the Twenty20 championship, with the first of eight rounds on Wednesday.