Matt Salisbury earned his Hampshire chance by starring in a game he was never selected to play.
An injury saw the seamer drafted in as late cover for Essex’s second team clash with Hampshire in May.
Salisbury went on to take five wickets – catching the eye of the Ageas Bowl coaches in the process.
The 24-year-old was a free agent after his release by Essex at the end of the 2015 season but spent the winter training with his former county.
The performance on the Ageas Bowl’s nursery ground was enough to earn at trial on the south coast.
And he went on to take 16 scalps in four matches for Hampshire’s second string.
Three weeks later and the Chelmsford lad made his first-class return against Warwickshire – grabbing two wickets, including former England Test star Ian Bell, in his first three balls.
Salisbury, who then collected four scalps in the clash with South Africa A last week said: ‘I was a late call-up for the second team game with Hampshire.
‘Someone got injured and they asked me if I’d like to play.
‘I said why not and drove down and went straight on to the field to have a bowl and it worked out well. Charlie (Freeston), the seconds coach, liked the look and asked me to play a couple of games.
‘I had two weeks of playing in the second XI, took a couple of wickets and then ended up in the first team. It has been a quick turnaround.
‘I was told I was playing against Warwickshire on the morning of the first game. I was surprised.
‘I didn’t expect to play, I thought I was coming down to train and maybe do some 12th man. It was a nice surprise.
‘I couldn’t have dreamt that start any better. Two wickets in three balls!
‘It relaxed me into the game after I had been itching to get involved.’
Salisbury played 13 first-class, six List A and eight twenty20 matches for Essex during a two-year professional spell, having been on their books since under-15s.
But he thought his career was over when he departed his home county.
Salisbury added: ‘A lot of the time I’ve been unsure what I was going to do.
‘I’m still kind of in that place when I’m not sure if I want to pursue it or where I’m going to pursue it.
‘Sometimes things just work themselves out.
‘I didn’t have any other plans. I was just playing minor counties cricket for Suffolk and that was all I was doing at the start of the season.
‘It has gone from playing a few games at the weekend and not having much on during the week to suddenly having a lot of cricket. I’m certainly happier now.
‘I have enjoyed my few weeks here and would like to stick around.
‘At the moment it is too early to know what will happen but I’m here for a little while, until the end of the season, and we’ll see what happens.’