LONDON, - The sun may have already set on the Ashes series, but Shane Watson produced the most golden innings of his career in the fifth Test at The Oval to inspire hope for the Australian summer to come.
Watson has threatened something big for so long, and finally he delivered with a brilliant 176 on day one.
His third Test ton was 48 innings and nearly three years in the making, that's how long it's been between three-figure scores for Australia's most underachieving player.
On 91, Watson was felled by a vicious Stuart Broad bouncer, keeping him on the canvas for several minutes with doctor and physio at his aid.
But the burly allrounder got up swinging.
Watson's hundred was up in just 114 balls and ultimately he fell just 24 runs short of a double century off 247 balls, with 25 fours and a six.
He shared in a 107-run second-wicket stand with Chris Rogers (23) and an outstanding 145-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Steve Smith (66 not out).
At stumps Australia are in a strong position at 4-307 off 90 overs, with night watchman Peter Siddle 18 not out.
It was reminiscent of Australia's day one at Old Trafford, which was unlucky not to set up a third Test win.
However, Australia will need more to be confident on a flat Oval wicket.
Watson's stellar hundred is the first time an Australian No.3 has posted a three-figure score since Shaun Marsh against Sri Lanka in 2011.
One swallow doesn't make a summer, but in the context of Australia's batting woes, Watson's century means he'll be hard to ignore for the pivotal No.3 position for the home Ashes starting in November.
The Australians won the toss on a pristine batting deck and England's attack was weak to say the least.
But how many times has Watson failed to take advantage of similar opportunities in the past?
Finally he delivered and his charge towards a double century was only ended by a stunning outfield catch from Kevin Pietersen off Broad (1-73), after he'd belted a pull shot.
When David Warner fell at 1-11, things were ominous for a struggling batting outfit.
But from early on it became clear it was Watson's day.
England debutants Chris Woakes (0-52) and Simon Kerrigan (0-53) gave Watson a licence to play his natural game.
He devoured them — smashing six boundaries off each before he was 80 not out from 77 balls at lunch.
In left-arm spinner Kerrigan's second over, Watson carted him for 18 runs, including four fours.
When on 104, Watson was dropped by Alastair Cook, a sitter off James Anderson (2-52).
And when on 166, he was given out lbw, but survived on a DRS review.
Watson didn't have it all his own way — he was struck by Broad under his helmet, behind his left-ear and crashed to the floor, writhing in pain.
Such distractions have cost Watson in the past, but he remained resolute all the way to a hundred, which he celebrated with arms raised out of sheer relief.