Mitch Marsh has put aside a challenging summer to lead Western Australia into a potential Sheffield Shield final, but says he's prouder of his Warriors for winning three straight matches to give themselves a chance.
Marsh entered the season after ankle surgery in April and, despite being Australia's Test vice-captain, was dropped after the Boxing Day Test with India.
He has also been overlooked for the one-day and Twenty20 teams, home and abroad, and copped a nasty groin injury that required surgery a month ago.
WA then looked out of the hunt for a Shield final, losing to NSW in Sydney in Marsh's absence by an innings and 51 runs.
But Marsh's self-belief and confidence in his young group remained. They have now beaten South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland to be a chance of playing Victoria in next week's final in Melbourne.
The Warriors came back from a 37-run deficit after the first innings against Queensland to score 348 in the second innings and set the Bulls a 312 target on the back of a brilliant 105 from Marsh.
His bowlers then got the job done, bowling out Queensland for 175.
That means WA will now play in the final unless NSW bowls out Tasmania to win on day four of their clash in Hobart.
"You look around this team right now and we have a bunch of young kids willing themselves to a Shield final," Marsh said.
"Hopefully WA are proud of us and hopefully if things fall into place, we can go one more next week. We have great momentum and self-belief now, and that's a great spot to be in going into a Shield final, if we make it."
On the back of the summer he's endured, Marsh said he was proud to contribute to WA's finish to the season as skipper.
"I've been working my backside off to make sure I'm performing for this team and I have felt so close the last couple of weeks," Marsh said.
Australian Associated Press