Ricky Ponting is feeling mentally and physically stronger than ever as he prepares to don the baggy green for what is expected to be an arduous summer of international Test cricket.
The former Test skipper had close to four months away from cricket after he was frozen out of Australia's one-day international squad earlier in the year.
"It was weird but at the same time, I knew what I had to do not being in the one-day set-up and obviously with the Twenty20 World Cup on (in Sri Lanka)...I had a good long break," Ponting said. "I made the most of the break for the first couple of months to give my mind and body a bit of a rest because I bashed myself up pretty much all throughout the summer last year."
With an emphasis on mental recuperation, part of that break involved not even picking up a bat.
The 165-Test veteran believes time away from the nets will be beneficial and not hinder preparation for the upcoming three-Test series against South Africa in November followed by Sri Lanka's visit in December.
"I did a little bit of exercise but didn't touch a bat for a couple of months," Ponting added.
"I needed to freshen up, get my mind right, and more importantly get fit, but just get my mind right around what I've got for the remainder of my career.
"Probably about 10 weeks without any batting still gave me another three months to get my game right, so I knew I would have plenty of batting up my belt by the time the first Shield game came around.
"Even with that I still have two and half more Shield games and three one-dayers (with Tasmania) before the first Test (for Australia against South Africa), so I've still got plenty of cricket."