Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
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Following his twin hundreds for Victoria against Queensland in October he had not reached three figures again, but fought his way to 111 on a day when South Australia's bowlers could have had quite a few more wickets.
"Been working as hard as I can, a couple of centuries first game and not much since then so that was a major factor to try to prove I deserve to be here," Dean said. "Prove to myself and prove to my team-mates.
"It hasn't sunk in yet but hopefully we can bat on and bat big and set up the game for the next couple of days. They bowled really well in stages there and were hard to get away in some stages.
"But you never feel in control. As you saw at the end there when we lost a couple of quick wickets there is enough there for the bowlers with the new ball and if you hit the seam you can get a bit out of it."
The innings was a neat summation of Dean's qualities: an unfussy, technically neat accumulator with a game designed for first-class and, should he keep batting as he did at Glenelg Oval, Test-match arenas.
"I'm a very limited player, I don't have many shots, I try to stick to my game plans, it's pretty simple," Dean said. "What all the coaching staff have been saying to me is just stay out there as long as you can, play your natural game to take time out of the game, face as many balls as I can, stay there as long as I can and the runs will eventually come. That's basically my philosophy."
After a quintet of recent low scores, Dean took succour from Cameron White's last day defiance in Alice Springs to scrape the Bushrangers into the final. "That was phenomenal to see someone like that," he said. "You take a lot out of watching the calibre of players we've got in the team; every week watching them in the nets, they've got tips for you every now and then which is good, but his innings there was phenomenal and you take a little bit out of that."
Dean also showed resilience in making the hundred days after losing his grandmother, who died while he was in Alice Springs. The funeral meant a delayed arrival for the final, but he was able to mark her passing with a poignant gesture towards the heavens upon reaching the milestone.