Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale
Pathways might deliver cricketers ready for the big time, but players can still emerge from off the beaten one. Daniel Worrall is the latest proof. Watch 25-year-old Worrall bowl a single delivery from his unusual angled run-up, reminiscent of Malcolm Marshall jogging in from near mid-off, and you will quickly realise that he does not fit the typical modern template.
But to borrow a line from a popular baseball book of this year, the only rule is it has to work. And Worrall's method works. It worked to such an extent that last summer he was the Sheffield Shield's second-leading wicket-taker with 44 at 26.18, and has now earned himself a call-up to Australia's squad for the upcoming ODI series in South Africa.
"There was a little tree at the end of the garden when I was a kid," Worrall told ESPNcricinfo on Tuesday. "If you wanted to get that bit of extra pace you had to go around the tree. That's how it started, and I never really had any significant bowling coaching done until I was probably 19, so I haven't really changed it much."
A likely international debut will be a big step up for Worrall, who has played only 12 List A matches in his career, but he is used to big jumps. Four years ago, he was a commerce student at Melbourne University, living on a typically unhealthy student diet, when an offer came from South Australia to sign a rookie contract for the 2012-13 summer.
"I'd finished two years there and I'd just live on $40 a week and have a pack of mee goreng noodles for dinner every night," Worrall said. "It was a bit of a change when I had to start taking my diet a bit seriously.
"For the first couple of years I probably wasn't as fit as I could or should have been, the penny hadn't quite dropped. But over the past couple of years working with [SA coach] Jamie Siddons and Stephen Schwerdt, the new fitness coordinator at the SACA, I just had to flick a switch and really commit to goals I had set for myself and things I wanted to achieve in the future."
In Worrall's own words, he wanted to "have a red-hot crack". And South Australia, the state that had taken a punt on Worrall in the first place, were the benefit of his increased output last summer. Worrall and Joe Mennie were the Shield's two leading wicket-takers and, along with Chadd Sayers, played key roles in the Redbacks reaching their first Shield final for 20 years.
All three of those men have now received Australia call-ups: Sayers was part of the Test squad that toured New Zealand earlier this year, and Mennie will join Worrall in the ODI touring party in South Africa. At least Mennie will provide another familiar face for Worrall, whose only interaction with captain Steven Smith came in a pair of games in October when Smith smashed 84 not out, 67 and 152 not out for New South Wales.
"I don't think I've ever met him properly," Worrall said. "I've shaken his hand after he's belted us around the park in a Shield game. But that's about it. It will be great to be on the same side as him. It will be all brand new, apart from a couple of guys with the SACA like Travis Head and Adam Zampa, and a couple of guys from the Melbourne Stars."
Regardless of what happens in South Africa, the call-up has certainly justified Worrall's decision to shift from Victoria to South Australia in 2012. It may not all have been smooth sailing along the way - he was suspended by South Australia in 2014 for a bizarre incident in which he etched a lewd image into a pitch - but the end result has been better than he could ever have imagined.
"In hindsight I think it was a great move because it allowed me the chance to play first-class cricket," Worrall said, "whereas I don't think I'd have had that opportunity as early at Victoria, with guys like Boland, Hastings, McKay, Siddle, Pattinson."