ALEX Doolan openly admits he's not one for being overly emotional, but he let his guard down the moment he was handed his baggy green cap.
The 28-year-old former Launceston batsman admitted that receiving his own version of one of Australian sport's most treasured items at Centurion Park last month was one moment that he'll never forget.
A big part of that stemmed from the fact that family, including his parents, mother Pam and father Bruce, a former Tasmanian wicketkeeper, and fiancee Laura and friends, were watching as he achieved something that he had thought was beyond him when he became Australia's 437th Test cricketer.
``I never thought I would play Test cricket, or first-class cricket for that matter, so this has all been a dream come true,'' Doolan told The Examiner yesterday, about 10 hours after returning to the country.
``At the start of the year I thought I'd missed any chance of playing Test cricket after being overlooked last year, so to go to South Africa and be part of that Test series and come home victors was very overwhelming and something I'll never forget.
``It was very, very special when that last wicket was taken [in the third Test at Cape Town].
``There was a huge sense of relief after Vernon Philander had earlier been given not out on review, and I personally thought things were not going to go our way [Australia winning with just 27 balls remaining].
``There was also pure elation that we had achieved what we had against the number one team in the world.''
The former Scotch Oakburn College student, who watched his Tasmanian captain, George Bailey, come in and out of the Test team over the summer, knows he still has a lot of work to do to cement his spot at No. 3.
After a promising debut Test with scores of 27 and 89, Doolan could only manage another 70 runs in his final four innings, finishing with 186 runs at an average of 31.
``To be perfectly honest, if I'm going to be playing for Australia, I'm going to have to have a better series than that,'' he acknowledged.
``I was the only batsman [in the top six] not to score a hundred on the tour, so it is all in my hands to a certain degree, so I need to put big numbers on the board to stay in the team.
``One of the things I've noticed, even through watching over the past few years, is that you've never cemented your spot. Just look at David Warner, who was copping a lot of criticism about his spot up until the Ashes.
``Destiny is in your own hands, as if you are making big scores, it would be very hard to lose your spot.''
``[After missing out of a century in the first Test] I was extremely gutted, but I will probably be more gutted the more time I get to think about it, as I had to move on quickly to the next game.''
Once he gets some well-earned rest, the elegant right-hander will pad up for Tasmania for its final Sheffield Shield outing of the season against South Australia starting on Tuesday - something he is looking forward to as he ``just loves playing for Tasmania''.
County Cricket could be on his agenda this winter, with Australia's next Test engagement not until October.
ALEX DOOLAN v South Africa
First Test at Centurion: 27 and 89.
Second Test at Port Elizabeth: 8 and 5.
Third Test at Cape Town: 20 and 37.
TOTAL: 186 runs @ 31.