It went unseen by team-mates and coaches and unmeasured by any of the travelling technology that accompanies cricketers around the world, but England’s World Cup prospects rocketed the moment Steven Finn felt a familiar sensation in his fingertips.
It was in Sri Lanka in November, where England were fine-tuning their final squad for the forthcoming tournament in Australia and New Zealand.
Two years ago, Finn would have been inked into the first XI – a physically imposing paceman ready to have the world’s best ducking and dancing to his tune.
A year ago, his entire international future was up in the air – the most miserable member of a miserable Ashes squad that brought the ‘down’ into ‘Down Under’.
Now? Finn may not quite be back to the peak of his powers, but the wickets are tumbling for him again and the speed-gun is ticking in the right direction.
It all comes down to that unquantifiable feeling of ball in hand.
He lost it in Australia last winter – along with his run-up, his confidence and, according to then coach Ashley Giles, his selectability.
But he found it again in Sri Lanka.
“Wickets always help, but the biggest gain in confidence is the feeling you get at the end of your fingertips,’’ he said, reflecting on his return to form during the recent Tri-Series against India and Australia.
“You can have a day when you get no wickets but you still feel good, and in the Sri Lanka tour before Christmas that feeling was there on my fingertips and I knew I was happy with how I was bowling.
“I think I’m getting there, back to my best, but there might be another couple of miles per hour to come in the tank.
“I think that will come with confidence and getting into my stride, but it’s a good starting block and I’m happy with where I’m at.’’
While Finn’s renaissance in England colours may have begun in the practice nets of Colombo, Pallekelle and Hambantota, it was not immediately apparent in results.
He was selected for five of the seven matches, slipping behind Chris Woakes in the process, and did not bowl his full allocation in any of them.
Twice he was handed just six overs and there was uncertainty over his role.
But England saw enough to include him in their World Cup 15 and the subsequent Tri-Series was a restorative moment for the Middlesex man.