He has played in every one of their last 20 T20Is, but Sheldon Cottrell
admits that he still doesn't feel like an automatic pick in the West Indies side in the shortest format.
Cottrell, the left-arm seamer, is one of the few automatic picks in West Indies' first-choice T20I bowling attack as things stand, with back-to-back World Cups coming up in 2021 and 2022. But heading into the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), where he will represent St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, Cottrell feels that he cannot simply rest on his laurels.
"What I've gotten my success in the West Indies team from is saying to myself that my spot is not sure," he told ESPNcricinfo. "That mentality keeps me fighting. I'm always going to fight.
"I wouldn't say that I'm a sure pick, no. Performances speak for themselves, so once I put them in, I'm going to keep my place."
For Cottrell, the dream of playing in a T20 World Cup final and helping West Indies defend their title feels within touching distance. Back in 2016, when they beat England in the final
, Cottrell had only a handful of international caps to his name, and was at home watching with his family.
"I was in my living room with my family, TV on loud," he recalled. "I'm the one who has to teach my family about the game, and when Carlos [Brathwaite] hit the first six, everyone erupted like the game had been won.
"Me being a fan of the game, I was sitting there like: OK, I know this can change in the blink of an eye. But when he hit that last six? Oh my god. Everyone erupts. We were drinking, laughing - it was like we were there.
"I can imagine being in a final, and I would think about the fans, looking back at how happy my family and I were at the time. All those emotions and all that happiness would be a joy for me to bring to all of them. Winning that would be beyond my dreams."
"I'm the type of person who creates his own energy. Most times, the fans don't matter to me on the field, because I'm so focused and zoned in on my job and what I have to do."
Cottrell returned to small-group training in Jamaica a month or so ago, and soon got over the initial aches and pains that came after a long break. He will be leading the attack for Patriots in the CPL, with significant expectations on his shoulders after they were hit by the withdrawals of Fabian Allen (missed flight), Rassie van der Dussen (travel difficulties), Dennis Bulli (Covid-19 positive) and Sunny Sohal (family reasons), plus a late change to their coaching staff.
"I've had a lot of rest, so my mind is in a wonderful place right now," Cottrell said. "Jamaica's a beautiful place and I haven't been at home for this long for the past two or three years. I've had the chance to explore and relax my mind - just set my mind into a good place.
"I've been more disciplined in my training, mainly in areas that I haven't had a chance to work on while playing. This is one of the positives of all this - I've gotten to strengthen some areas that the time wasn't there for while playing.
"During the lockdown, I've been thinking about things that I can do and since I'm back bowling now, I'm going to put them into play. I've got a couple of deliveries I've been working on - I don't want to give too much away. But even if I start with the new ball, I've got a few things up my sleeve."
Following the CPL, Cottrell will travel to the UAE to fulfil his $1million contract with Kings XI Punjab in the IPL
, a tournament that he describes as "every modern-day cricketer's dream". He admitted that it would be strange in both tournaments to play without fans, but thinks that he can "create his own energy" to avoid any dip in performance.
"How am I going to feel? Playing without spectators is something new for most international cricketers, but I'm the type of person that'll put in 110% no matter what, so I'm not too worried about that.
"I'm the type of person who creates his own energy. Most times, the fans don't matter to me on the field, because I'm so focused and zoned in on my job and what I have to do. Whenever I salute, it's all about passion and respect for my military colleagues: I didn't start out doing it for the fans."
And as for the Patriots' chances? "It's a well-rounded team. I'll be realistic: we're pushing for the top four and will take it from there, but we have a strong team with the inclusion of Chris Lynn and Ish Sodhi.
"Alzarri Joseph too, he's a cool customer. There's nothing too hype about him, but he's gone from strength to strength. With what he's been through in his personal life, I feel for him, and I can see that he's a strong person. He'll be trying to put his hand up."
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @mroller98