By the time Jonathan Trott trudged off the pitch at the end of England's Caribbean tour in 2015, it seemed his days in the sun were over.
What once had come so easily had become torturous. He admits to have a sense of relief when he was dismissed in the second innings of that final Test in Barbados: relief he would never have to put himself through the torment again. When Alastair Cook suggested he review the lbw decision, he apparently replied "Nah, I'm out of here" and walked off to one of the more unusual standing ovations you will witness. Everyone knew his international career was over but, despite scores of 0 and 9 in that last Test, the Barmy Army proved they had longer memories than some sports fans when they rose to applaud him off.
The months that followed were not easy. Trott didn't just struggle to score runs in the 2015 season - he averaged 25.05 in the Championship - he struggled to muster any enthusiasm for the game. Maybe he even started to resent it.
For Trott was a boy brought up to bat. He didn't have a teddy, he had a sawn-down cricket bat. He didn't go on holiday, he went on tour. So while he never much bothered with education - why did he need qualifications when he was going to score centuries? - he learned to express himself through runs. Want to make his parents happy? Score a century. Want to impress new team-mates? Score a century. Runs made everything all right.
But, somewhere along the way, batting become too important to him. It wasn't just a game: it was his profession; his identity; his means of providing for his family and making them proud. By the time it all came crashing down - unmasked and, in his eyes, humiliated in public in Brisbane - he felt he had nothing left. He has a book coming out in the coming days (I must declare an interest; I helped him write it) which will surprise a few by revealing the depths to which he sunk and how early in his career the demons started to take control. In short, cricket had become agony to him and he really didn't have anything else to fall back upon.
It has taken a long time to recover. But somewhere, maybe through the faith shown in him by Warwickshire, maybe through the hours spent with the psychiatrist Steve Peters, maybe by simply keeping on buggering on (as Winston Churchill memorably put it) he seems to have emerged through the other side of the storm.
Oh, yes, the game defeated him in the end. Brisbane and Barbados still happened. Mitchell Johnson was still too good. Nothing will ever change that.
But, as he showed at Lord's, the experience has not destroyed him. It has scarred him, yes. But he has recovered sufficiently not just to re-emerge as a fine player at this level, but to have rediscovered his enjoyment for this great game. Maybe there is a happy ending to his story, after all.
Most people have experienced failure and fear at some time; they can respect a man who has faced his and, if not defeated them, at least not allowed to let them defeat him
There should be. While his international career ended in failure - they nearly always do - there were some great days along the way. There were Ashes wins at home at away. There was the rise to No. 1 in the Test and ODI rankings. There was the highest ODI batting average of any regular England batsman. It would be a shame if all that was overshadowed by the ending. It would be a shame if his second Test in Brisbane was remembered but his first not.
It looks, at least, as if he will be able to look back with a sense of proportion and pride. To have paid the club he loves back with a Man-of-the-Match performance in a Lord's final will ensure he leaves the game - and that departure is not especially imminent - with head held high and good memories outweighing the bad. He finishes as the competition's second-highest run-scorer (only team-mate and imitator Sam Hain scored more) with three centuries and two half-centuries from seven innings. You didn't have to be a Warwickshire supporter to celebrate his success.
For maybe the first time in his career, Trott is playing the game for fun. He still puts himself under pressure to perform - "as an ex-international player you want to set the standard" he said - but he is not driven by the same desperation to prove himself. He knows there is more to life than cricket now. He knows it's not everything.
There were many heroes in this Warwickshire performance. There was Laurie Evans, who owed his selection over Ireland captain William Porterfield to an impressive display in a fielding training session earlier in the week and took what may have been a match-defining effort to dismiss Jason Roy. There was Oliver Hannon-Dalby, who gained seam movement absent to Surrey's hugely talented quartet of pace bowlers. There was Chris Wright, who bowled with intelligence and control to tighten the grip on Surrey's nervous batsmen. There was Tim Ambrose, who shrugged off injury to keep magnificently on a tricky surface and completed a stumping off a leg-side wide as if it was easy. There was Dougie Brown, who remains under pressure, but deserves time to lead this team through a tricky transition; the club will not find a coach who works harder or cares more. And there was Jeetan Patel who, with his quicker pace and greater turn, easily out-bowled Surrey's two spinners. As Ian Bell said afterwards: "He is the standout spinner in county cricket."
But most of all there was Trott. The limited-overs game may have moved on from the time he took England to the brink of their first global ODI trophy - he still refers to the Champions Trophy final defeat at Edgbaston in 2013 as the biggest disappointment of his career and the moment his decline began - but if you need a man to chase a relatively modest target, there is nobody better. There might never have been anyone better. He was never going to let a chase of 137 bother him.
"If there's one bloke in world cricket who I would want to knock off a small total - or a total where you can pace yourself - it is Jonathan Trott," Bell said.
That is not faint praise. This was a surface - a poor surface for a showpiece final, really - on which nobody else in the match passed 40. Only one man reached 30. Not even Roy scored at such a strike rate. It required a man with a calm head and masterful technique to conquer it. It was a reminder of the high-class player he once was.
It was noticeable at the end that the supporters of Surrey, as much as Warwickshire, stood to applaud him. As cricket crowds become more partisan such moments become ever less frequent. But maybe there has been something in Trott's public struggle - and his public attempts to overcome it - that struck a chord with spectators. That has endeared him to them in a way that runs and records never can. Most people have experienced failure and fear at some time; they can respect a man who has faced his and, if not defeated them, at least not allowed to let them defeat him.
It was noticeable, too, that with the game won and the rest of the players leaving the pitch, Trott paused for a while and marked his guard one more time. It was a ritual that once seemed to infuriate, but now appears a more endearing quirk. Trott will leave the game with a smile on his face and many good memories. From the position he was in not so long, that is something to be cherished.