Kyle Abbott believes he is in the form of his career after rediscovering his motivation at Hampshire.
Fast bowler Abbott only managed 17 wickets in his first eight games of the season as he struggled with an ankle problem.
But since the County Championship returned to the schedule, Abbott has bagged 30 scalps, including four five-wicket hauls in his last three appearances.
He will be hoping to add to that impressive tally when Hampshire start their penultimate division one match of the season at Yorkshire on Tuesday (10.30am).
The recent highs have been very welcome after the struggles earlier in the season.
Abbott said: ‘It has been a strange contrasting season. I went through six games where I have never been that bad.
‘And now to be where I am now, I don’t know how to take it, I still can’t believe it. I am happy to turn it around.
‘I can’t think of a better spell, maybe just before I was selected for South Africa. I think I played nine first class games back at home and picked up 49 poles.
‘The rhythm I have now is so contrasting from the start of the season – back then I was unsure from the top of my run up and now I’m not even thinking about anything else other than “I’m going to take a wicket every ball”.’
Abbott admitted the comedown from the international arena finally caught up with him in the early stages of the season – with the 31-year-old signing a three-year Kolpak deal with Hampshire at the beginning of last season.
Part of Abbott’s struggles were formed around an inability to see a forward progression for the first time in his career, which he insists he has now overcome.
He added: ‘I came over here and I struggled to find my motivation again.
‘I came off the high of international cricket last year and came over here trying to prove a lot of people wrong.
‘Then this year I didn’t know what my next step or next ambition was and I maybe let myself slide and get into a comfort zone.
‘Since I played club cricket I always wanted to get out of the team I was playing in, I just wanted to know how I was going to play the next level.
‘So for the past nine years there was always a goal and then this year I found myself a little lost.
‘I’ve made a couple of tweaks here and there and I’m a lot happier off the field which makes a huge difference.
‘I had a meeting with the club and made a few tweaks to the contract that I know will get the best out of me.’
One of the reasons behind Abbott’s current form has been the influence of overseas star Dale Steyn.
Steyn, who has now returned to South Africa ahead of their ODI series with Zimbabwe later this month, took 13 wickets in back-to-back victories against Worcestershire and Somerset.
And without specifically talking with his compatriot about improving his form, just having Steyn around has helped Abbott trigger happy memories.
He added: ‘We haven’t had much to chat about but we have talked about some of the stories that have been brought up from the times we have played together.
‘Then I start to think “how was I bowling there” and try to dig into those experiences.
‘He hasn’t helped that much but he has triggered those memories of how I bowled those times.
‘It was disappointing last week that I kept bowling a four ball in each over and I’ve been trying to work out where it was coming from.
‘I had to tell him to stop bowling so well as he was doing too much with it against Somerset.
‘He comes with such a high reputation and for guys who had never faced him before it was tricky because he rushes you quicker than you think.
‘To bowl in tandem with him was great and I hope I can do it with him again really soon.’
Report by Alex Smith