Unique spin prospect Arjun Nair says he's as hungry as ever to forge a path to the top of Australian cricket after his ban from bowling due to an illegal action was lifted.
Nair, arguably the country's only true mystery spinner whose breakout KFC Big Bash campaign was soured by his suspension, has been cleared to resume bowling in all competitions, Cricket Australia announced on Friday.
The Sydney Thunder allrounder was reported during the last summer's BBL on December 30 against the Hobart Hurricanes, before copping a three-month ban when his bowling action was deemed to be "markedly different" during subsequent biomechanical testing.
Nair has since worked tirelessly with former Test wrist-spinner and now Thunder assistant Beau Casson as well as Cricket NSW pathways coach Anthony Clark on remodelling his bowling action.
Immediately after intensive sessions with his mentors, the 20-year-old would then complete extra remedial work his father Jayanand either in the nets in his backyard or at a local park in Sydney's west.
Nair opted to undergo a re-test in Brisbane last week (May 21) on his off-spinner and his carrom ball – a delivery that few in Australian cricket have mastered, which turns the opposite way to his stock ball while retaining the same appearance – with the results showing his arm was within the 15 degrees of permitted tolerance.
It's a major relief for the right-armer, who is highly-rated by CA youth coaches Ryan Harris and Greg Chappell. He will spend the next four weeks in Brisbane taking part in a month-long spin camp with the National Performance Squad, a collection of the country's best young talent.
Speaking publicly for the first time since his ban was imposed, Nair expressed an overwhelming gratitude to his family, coaches, Cricket NSW general manager David Moore and his Sydney Thunder counterpart Lee Germon for helping him navigate the most difficult period of his career to date.
"It was obviously a big blow," Nair told cricket.com.au. "I was very disappointed and it took me quite a while to get my head around it.
"Not just for me, but it was really hard for my family. My Dad is very involved with my cricket so I think he was more affected by it than I was.
"I worked with him on bowling a lot as well. After I'd finished bowling with Beau and Anthony, I went with my Dad and did some extras.
"I was always confident that I'd be able to fix it and return. I had a lot of support from NSW teammates and the Sydney Thunder."
Nair has modelled his bowling style on West Indian star Sunil Narine, who has also been reported numerous times for an illegal action.
He initially considered reaching out to Narine's long-time mentor Carl Crowe, a former first-class off-spinner who has helped several players remodel their actions, but was satisfied Casson and Clark knew his action better than anyone.
"My coaches and I sat down and looked at my footage and the thing I noticed was that I didn't use much of my lower body," Nair explained.
"So I had to engage my legs more in my action. That was the key. I've been looking at my arm path as well – just little things, but they made a big difference to my action.
"For me the challenge is now to maintain it. You see a lot of bowlers who have been in this position and had a problem, they come back and get reported again. I have to make sure I don't lapse and keep in the back of my mind that I have to keep being consistent."
Harris, CA's main bowling coach in their elite junior program, said there was no doubt Nair had fixed the issues with his action and was bullish about his one-of-a-kind skills.
"I've just sat through a spin meeting and watched him bowling in slow-motion – if there's any doubt with an arm, it always looks worse in slo-mo but it looked excellent," Harris told cricket.com.au. "He's done a fair bit of work in that space and it's going to be an ongoing thing with him.
"I think he can be a huge player for us. There's not many around in Australia who bowl like him, he's got that Sunil Narine style to him, who he models his action on.
"He's a point of difference – he can bowl good variations and he is accurate. He's just got to keep working hard on his action to keep it consistent, and he can bat as well.
"He's the whole package and you can play him in all conditions. He's very exciting, everything's on track for him to have a big season."
Nair highlighted his versatility in the weeks following his suspension by playing in the BBL as a specialist batsman, bashing three sixes in a 25-ball 45 that nearly won the Thunder a game against the Melbourne Renegades out of nowhere. In March, he posted an unbeaten 95 in a Toyota Futures League match for NSW against Victoria.
The Canberra-born allrounder has played just four first-class matches to date, having found himself among a strong spin contingent in NSW in recent seasons.
And while his most significant opportunities have come in the Big Bash, Nair insists developing his red-ball game remains his priority.
"My goal is to play all three formats at the top level," he said.
"Because I've had consistently a lot more opportunities at T20 level, people think, 'OK, he must be a T20 player'.
"But my main goal is to play first-class cricket."