Josh Hazlewood is back feeling confident in his body and his position as a Test mainstay but knows he could have been staring at a completely different path in 2019.
Hazlewood will begin his Australian summer on Wednesday in a one-dayer for a full-strength NSW side against Tasmania.
The 28-year-old enjoyed almost a month off bowling after the Ashes, following a first-half of the year he spent sidelined by a back injury.
Fit again and comfortable with slight changes made to his action, the right-armer is considered a lock for Australia's first Test against Pakistan next month.
But he concedes there was a point where he was looking at a much different year after being overlooked for the World Cup and then the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston.
"It happens pretty quickly when it's happening but now you look back you think it could have gone either way," Hazlewood told AAP at Kayo's summer of cricket launch.
"If I didn't play the next Test or someone was doing really well and doesn't give an opportunity.
"When I was running drinks for that first Test I was just training really hard and thinking I had to make the most of an opportunity."
The Edgbaston Test - which Australia won - marked the first time Hazlewood had been dropped from the Test side in his four-and-a-half year career.
"When the team wins (at Edgbaston) you're not expecting changes (to be able to come back in)," Hazlewood reflected.
"I knew Patto (James Pattinson) had bowled a fair bit and they had a plan for him.
"So I knew the opportunity was going to come, whether it was the second Test or third Test. And then whether (Mitchell) Starc or I go in was another call."
Recalled for the second Test at Lord's, Hazlewood finished the series with 20 wickets at 21.85 to erase any doubt over his spot in the team.
"Yeah, I think (I feel cemented)," he said.
"You never feel too comfortable in the Australian cricket team but you always put it on yourself to perform every game the best you can."
Hazlewood's NSW return will come alongside Starc, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon on Wednesday.
It will mark the first time Australia's first-choice bowling quartet have played a one-dayer for NSW together, with Hazlewood ready to ramp up his preparations for the summer.
"The whole body feels really good," Hazlewood said.
"A couple of quiet weeks after the Ashes back here at home (helped)."
Australian Associated Press