THE hairs stood up on the back of Matthew Gilkes' neck as he took his place inside the North Sydney Oval change rooms.
A quick glance around the room gave him a moment to think about the meteoric rise that brought him into the NSW squad.
Just a few places above him in the batting order were Steve Smith and David Warner.
Australia's finest batsmen.
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Steaming in with the new ball were Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, before Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon took over.
Australia's world class bowling attack.
And then there was Gilkes, the kid from Ulladulla whose move to Western District in Canberra had paved the way for his sudden rise to the top level.
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The young wicketkeeper whose innings that day caught the eye of cricket legend Shane Warne.
Now Gilkes has set his sights on an even loftier goal: to take the Sydney Thunder back to the summit.
Gilkes will link up with fellow Canberra export Alex Ross at the Thunder for the BBL campaign which begins on Tuesday night.
"The experience they had in that team was unbelievable, to be able to play alongside them was great," Gilkes said.
"I have come a long way over the past year or so and it has all happened pretty fast.
"It's been good to get around the squad.
"We've got a great squad at the Thunder, a few good guys with a lot of experience have come along so that'll be great for a young guy like me.
"My game has definitely come a long quite a fair bit.
"I'm working with some great coaching staff at the moment who have made it great for me.
"I've come a long way over the past year or so.
"Fingers crossed I'll be playing with the gloves and batting at the top of the order.
"We'll wait and see what they do with the team."
The 20-year-old rocketed onto the Big Bash scene last summer with a half-century on debut which buried the demons of a dropped catch in the opening over.
But Gilkes has never been one to be weighed down by fear of failure.
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That's why Ross expects him to make the most of his shot if he gets the nod for the Thunder in their season opener against the Brisbane Heat at The Gabba on Tuesday.
"When you're young, the best thing you've got is the youthful innocence of not really knowing or understanding the consequences of what you're doing," Ross said.
"That can actually be an advantage in Twenty20 cricket.
"Hopefully giving that freedom to players like Gilkesy.
"He is an absolute gun and absolutely smacks them, the more we give him the freedom to bat, the more we will gain."
Ross has shifted to the Thunder this season in search of greater opportunity, with he and Gilkes in line to return to Canberra against the Adelaide Strikers at Manuka Oval on December 21.