Jeetan Patel never planned to play for the BLACKCAPS again.
Fully committing himself to his UK County side Warwickshire and having not featured for the BLACKCAPS since 2013, the wily right-arm off-spinner had conceded his dream of playing for his country again.
Fast forward to March 2017 and the 36-year-old is a key figure in the Test team and could play a major role for the one-day side in conditions he knows well at June’s Champions Trophy in the UK.
“It’s exciting,” Patel said.
“They’re such a great bunch of guys and they’re certainly going somewhere with their cricket and I want to help them get there.
"I didn't plan to play for New Zealand again. But when the stars align, it's beautiful. You get an opportunity to make up for lost time, for an opportunity I may have missed.”
Patel was used as the frontline spinner in the first ANZ Test against South Africa in Dunedin, called on by Kane Williamson in the sixth over on the first morning.
“It’s a nice responsibility. I have a real desire to do something for this team.
"I know I am not going to be in this team forever so I am enjoying every moment I've got. To come back in and play test cricket again in New Zealand is pretty special to me and to my family, who have obviously sacrificed a lot for me to continue in my career."
The father of two is also excited about the prospect of Thursday’s second Test in his hometown of Wellington.
“I’d love to play a Test match at the Basin, I think it’s the greatest ground in New Zealand and almost the world.
“It’d be great to play in front of my home crowd, but you don’t always get what you want. We’ll have to sit and see what the wicket is and what our better weapons will be to attack them.”
Patel bowled 69 overs at the University of Otago Oval last week, taking four wickets at an impressive economy rate of just over two runs an over.
He also continued his edge on South African master blaster Quinton de Kock, who fell to the right-arm spinner for the third and fourth time consecutively this tour.
Patel believes the BLACKCAPS will take a lot from their efforts in the first Test, where the hosts went toe to toe with the Proteas for four days before rain ruined any chance of a result.
“It’s huge. To be able to stand up to the number three team in the world and beat them in the first innings - that’s a little win in itself. Our guys are an amazing bunch. They always find another way.”