Less than a year ago Cameron White wasn't considered among the best 15 Twenty20 cricketers in Australia. Now he can quite comfortably stand among the best 15 in the world. His career-best, unbeaten 85 against Sri Lanka was easily the highest score by a No. 6 in this format of the game and transformed a match that threatened to go wrong for his team into as comfortable a Twenty20 win as there is.
Looking from the outside it is strange that White hasn't always been one of the first picks in the Twenty20 outfit, however a closer look shows his average for Victoria is a modest 22.36. His two hundreds came while playing for Somerset (and he will return there for the English Twenty20 Cup this summer) so he wasn't always picking his moments to impress. Few players, though, hit the ball as hard and a recall was only a matter of time.
White did eventually earn a place at the World Twenty20 in England, but only after Andrew Symonds' final indiscretion led to him being jettisoned from the trip in a move that ended his international career. This time White is here by rights, and is so well entrenched that he is the team's vice-captain. Symonds' departure may just have eased the path slightly.
He returned to the side in the post-Ashes Twenty20 series against England began with 55 at Old Trafford while continuing to establish himself in the 50-over team. Then, in February, he produced a brutal 26-ball 64 as Australia tied a run chase of 214 against New Zealand before losing on the Super Over. This innings, though, was in a world tournament and the pressure doesn't come much greater.
Nothing better sums up the depth in this Twenty20 outfit than having White and Michael Hussey coming in at six and seven and their stand of 101 was a record for the sixth wicket. Few teams would recover from 67 for 5, but Australia did it with ease having produced a similar fightback against Bangladesh when they were 65 for 6.
"With the strength of our squad we believe whatever position we get into we can win," Michael Clarke said. "It didn't matter how many runs we got today we were confident in those conditions that if we bowled well and held out catches that we would definitely win the game."
On one hand two similar collapses in the space of three matches might cause concern in a tournament where the games come thick and fast, but on the other it allows different players to produce match-winning roles. White often has to come in and swing from ball one in the closing overs but this time he walked in during the fifth over and, in terms of Twenty20, had time to build an innings. Shane Watson and David Warner had their moment against India, but they won't always come off. For this Australia team that isn't a problem.
"One of the benefits of losing a few wickets early from my point of view is that you have time to get yourself in," White said. "It was nice to contribute the win and I'm glad we got to a good score and were able to put them under pressure. Our bowlers did a great job after that and it was a good all-round result."
Ajantha Mendis joined the list if players to drop costly chances in recent days as he missed White at short fine-leg on 23 and although he removed Clarke in the same over Sri Lanka's grip on the match was loosened from that moment. After 28 deliveries he'd made 39, an impressive rate considering the trouble he faced at 30 for 4, then in the next 21 he added another 46.
"Even under pressure the guys have still played their natural games," Clarke said. "Whitey has come out and backed himself and when he's in good nick there's no one better in the game."
A word, too, for Hussey, who has bailed Australia out of many Test and ODI holes and is now doing the same in Twenty20. When he was left out of the squad for the matches in New Zealand before this tournament it looked like the end for him in this format but he was given a reprieve, and how grateful Australia have been.
"It's the side we thought would do best in this tournament and it gives players above Mike Hussey freedom to play," Clarke said. "He doesn't bat seven every game but I think it's the strength of our team that we have a lot of part-timers who can bat and bowl which allows us to have a specialist batsman at seven and we've seen how important that is."
However, this was White's day and just to prove it he flung himself low and left at backward point to take a stunner that removed Tillakaratne Dilshan. He was never going to drop it.