Steve Magoffin readily admits that when he arrived at Sussex for the second game of the 2012 season, whisked in as a quick fix, he was not a "sexy" overseas signing. He was uncapped, not Sussex's top choice and set to stay just six weeks. Few could have thought, least of all Magoffin, that the gangly seamer would still be there four seasons on - with a deal for another contract penned, an inch from British citizenship and 258* wickets under his belt.

From his first game - a nine-for against Lancashire - Magoffin has been Sussex's metronome. He is quiet, unfussy and unglamorous, with old-fashioned virtues at the heart of his method and absolutely no longing for the limelight, to the point that, at times, he has seemed something of a faceless destroyer.

The only certainty has been that b Magoffin would appear in the wicket column. Unfashionable, perhaps, but having taken 28% of Sussex's Championship wickets since he arrived, there is a case for him being the club's finest player since Mushtaq Ahmed and the most important overseas signing in England. This season he has been ever-present, shouldering a huge burden (over 3,200 balls as the season reached its final week) in an injury-ravaged attack at times shorn of seven quicks.

The metronome, however, has an interesting story to tell. Indeed, the stopgap who became the stalwart nearly left the game altogether eight months before he arrived at Sussex. Magoffin played seven seasons for Western Australia (as well as spells at Surrey and Worcestershire, where he met his wife), the last of which - 2010-11, when he was 31 - was entirely ravaged by injury and he was released.

"At that stage it was impossible not to wonder whether my professional career was over," says Magoffin. "You get the meeting where you're told they are moving in a different direction, which you react to in the only obvious way: anger and disappointment. I tried to secure something at another State and sides were interested but couldn't commit.

"I decided to move back to Queensland to my old club Western Suburbs to play grade cricket. I've no doubt that those few months are the reason I'm still going well now. Rocking up on Tuesday night, under poor lighting with average cricket balls with old mates, I fell back in love with the game.

"I did a bit of coaching too. I just decided to give it one season and see. Darren Lehmann and Trevor Hohns were clear that just because I wasn't contracted then didn't mean I wasn't a chance to play. I hit my straps immediately and ended up playing Queensland's first 50-over game, and by the end of the season I'd hit the winning runs in the Sheffield Shield Final! Looking back, for that to be my last moment in Australian cricket, especially with it being for my home state, was unbelievable."

It was not his plan for that to be his final act in Australian cricket. Since his spell with Worcestershire in 2008, overseas player regulations had changed - with his lack of international experience rendering him ineligible - and then changed again - permitting him to play on a spouse visa.

"In eight months, I went from no job in cricket at all to winning the Shield and being here. Four years later, the rest was history"

So when, a few weeks after that Shield triumph of 2012, Tim Southee was forced to pull out of a deal with Sussex, in came Magoffin on a six-week deal. It was not long before Mark Robinson, Sussex's director of cricket, recognised his ability.

"I started well and Robbo was keen for me to stay, so I blagged a couple of extra weeks, before Queensland said I had to come back for pre-season. At that stage, we decided that if I could secure cricket in England for the following season, we'd stay for good. It was a good time for us, as my thoughts of higher honours were gone and my wife was pregnant and due in December that year. That was a big motivating factor, with her family being in Worcester. Sussex signed me up, I made the call to Queensland, and that was that.

"In eight months, I went from no job in cricket at all to winning the Shield and being here. Four years later, the rest is history. It's funny to think that if I hadn't made an impact in grade cricket by Christmas, none of this would ever have happened."

'This' has turned out to be wickets, by the bucketload, by finding movement in the air, and hitting the seam on a fourth stump line and good length. "I wasn't a high-profile signing, and wasn't the type of person people expected Sussex to sign. I wasn't an international, had only played six first-class games in 18 months and there was no press entourage. I had no choice but to prove myself quickly, and make people sit up.

"The pitches here work for me. I understand how to get the best from them. There are definite phases of the season: early doors on the green seamers it is tough work for the batters. As a bowler you are looking to set your season up by the end of June. Then you move on and work out ways to stay in the game when things don't quite suit you. I've always been able to hit the seam, and the Dukes ball helps. When I was younger, I wouldn't have been patient enough when conditions weren't right but now, I know what I'm good at, what works when, and I don't need great pace to succeed."

What Australia would have given for such knowledge during the Ashes. Magoffin's style is something of a throwback, but so is what he represents: a reminder of the days of Law, Love and the like - classy, seldom-capped Australians making hay in the shires.

Now, though, there is one final box for Magoffin to tick: officially turning his back on Australia. His British citizenship application is being processed by the Home Office, which opens up exciting possibilities for Sussex. During the latter half of the season, the club have been on tenterhooks waiting for approval, with rumours abound that Yasir Shah was set to join with Magoffin playing as a local.

It has not come through quickly enough, but in 2016, who knows: Magoffin will be at Hove, and if Sussex avoid relegation - they need nine points from their final game, away at champions Yorkshire to be in charge of their own destiny - it will be as much down to his 66* wickets as any other individual contribution. What a happy six-week stay it has turned out to be.

* Figures correct to the end of Yorkshire's first innings against Sussex on September 23