He may have been a lightning rod for criticism and a byword for promising bowlers tossed on the international scrapheap, but Surrey seamer Jade Dernbach is desperate to defy what some might consider lengthy odds and resurrect his England career.
It has been a rocky road over recent years for the Johannesburg-born quick, who has been widely mocked for possessing some of the worst economy rates of all time in white-ball international cricket.
He was dispatched from the England set-up after their calamitous group-stage exit at the 2014 World Twenty20 and has not been seen on that stage since, spending the intervening period convalescing at the Kia Oval.
The death of team-mate Tom Maynard, with whom Dernbach shared a night out hours before he was struck by a tube train in the summer of 2012, understandably took a considerable and lasting toll.
Now aged 30, Dernbach is adamant that his rehabilitation following tragedy and adversity means he is a more mature and much-improved version of the player who went on to make 58 appearances for England following his debut in 2011.
“It’s never too far away from my mind, I would love to get myself back in that international side,” Dernbach told City A.M.
“Where I am now in my career, I think I am a better player and a more mature person than I was when I was playing so hopefully if I do get an opportunity I can showcase some new skills and a different me.
“It’s been tough, being in the wilderness, I’m not going to lie. Once you have tasted international cricket, you want it to continue and you think it is going to continue forever and a day. It feels like it just came and went so quickly.
“I certainly look back fondly, I played a lot of cricket but feel like I haven’t done myself complete justice and I still have more to offer. Because I tasted success and I tasted failure, I just want to go out there and be more consistent and just be a more level player.
“I think I have put a couple of good years together now but as long as I am playing, I want to test myself at the highest level. Because I’ve had the taste of it and know what it’s like, it’s something I really want to get back.”
Dernbach’s appearance, which includes tattoos down both arms, screams modern-day cricketer. In fact, it could be argued that he possesses many of the attributes which England’s current young and vivacious one-day side is lauded for.
Ahead of his time in that respect perhaps, the right-armer, noted for an array of slower-balls and not averse to exuberant celebrations or post-delivery sledging of batsmen, believes unwarranted judgements have at times been passed.
“Looking back, I always knew that going into that [England] side, looking the way I do and playing the game the way I play it, it was always going to be that way,” said Dernbach, who is currently sidelined with a stress fracture of the back.
“Because I was the only guy in the side that looked that way and played the game in that spirit, maybe at times there was a lot of unfair criticism – there certainly was. But then equally, there were times when I did deserve the criticism.
“It’s a case of where is that line? You cannot continuously lay the blame on me for that. It would be great to be there now because I would probably just slip under the radar because everybody looks like that and plays like that.
“But that’s when my time came. In the beginning of my career, I would like to think I was pretty successful in quite a few series. Towards the back end of my time with England, I didn’t back it up with performances.”
Dernbach possesses another tattoo. He has former Surrey batsman Maynard’s squad number, 55, emblazoned on his chest – symbolic that the harrowing events of 18 June 2012, when the Welshman’s body was found on a railway line near Wimbledon Park station, will be omnipresent.
With a demeanour and disposition completely at odds with his image of being flash, the level of soul-searching and emotional turmoil, both personally and in terms of cricketing reconstruction, which Dernbach has undertaken following’s his friend’s passing is abundantly clear.
“Any time you go through what a lot of the guys in this dressing room have gone through, it changes you completely as a person and as a player,” added Dernbach. “It puts everything into perspective and it certainly did for me.
“It had a massive impact on me playing-wise and as a person. It gave me a different outlook on things and it’s taken me a long time to get to the point where I have a greater understanding of it.
“I now sit here four years down the line and, of course, I look at it in a completely different way with a much more mellow outlook on life, trying to make the most of things but also not take things too seriously.
“Being back in love with the game is a great way to put it. I certainly did fall out of love with it due to the pressures, not performing well and everything that was going on away from cricket.
“Getting back to Surrey, I felt loved and they looked after me and rallied around me, and then performances slowly but surely started coming back and I started trusting myself again, trusting my abilities and working harder at the things I thought I had to work on.
“All of a sudden you do get that love back. I’ve also realised how important it is to separate Jade the cricketer and Jade the person and I think that’s certainly helped me out on the pitch.”