Usman Khawaja knows better than to look further ahead than his next innings. Others that utter the well-rehearsed "one match at time" might be guilty of leaning on a cliche. For Khawaja, it's become a self-defence mechanism in a career where little has been taken for granted.
Even now, just weeks ahead of the first Ashes Test, Khawaja hasn't allowed himself to envisage striding out onto the Gabba. That he would even conceive his non-selection shows how well he's managed to cocoon himself from anything but the next delivery, which will come from a watered-down NSW attack in the Sheffield Shield game in Brisbane from Monday.
There can be no doubt that Khawaja will be picked to bat at No.3 for Australia. But his presence in the Test team has been anything but a forgone conclusion, to the point where he has openly questioned the selection policy after being in, then out, depending on the country and conditions.
Deemed ineffective on the subcontinent, Khawaja has been dropped from a series in Sri Lanka, left out of the India tour in March and dropped again after one match against Bangladesh in September. He doesn't believe it's a healthy path to develop as a batsman, nor to foster the kind of group character imbued in the teams of Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting.
As such, he'll be excited about the prospect of what is essentially a home Ashes Test for the transplanted New South Welshman when it arrives. In the meantime, he wants to continue amassing runs, this time against NSW, who will rest their Test pace attack two weeks out from the first ball of the series against England.
"Definitely," Khawaja replies when asked if he's given up stargazing. "It's one of those things I've seen in other players and something I experienced when I was younger. Once you start worrying about other stuff, it's just a spiral and it gets worse and worse.
"For me, at least, that's the best way to do things. I've been in situations before when I was younger, worrying about things that are going to happen a month, two months away. I just saw no point in that once I realised that it didn't make a difference and definitely didn't help my cricket.
"For me, at the moment, it's about playing well in shield cricket and the rest takes care of itself. Everything revolves around the next game and once that finishes and if I'm there, yes I will be excited about the Ashes. But at the moment, I'm refusing to look too far ahead. For me at the moment, no, I'm not excited. But I'm sure I will be."
After courting mild controversy with his criticism of the horses-for-courses policies of the selection panel, Khawaja has now reverted to communicating through a more familiar dialect: runs.
While others have struggled to make a pressing case in the now annual Shield auditions ahead of the opening Test of the summer, Khawaja has found some fluency. He made 40 and 122 in Brisbane against the Vics, then recorded 27 and an unbeaten 28 as Queensland strode to an easy win on a difficult track in Hobart.
The left-hander looks regal at the crease when the runs are flowing and he knows how to score them in Brisbane, where he's honed and refined his technique to accommodate the bounce, then let his natural game dictate the pace of an innings.
"I'm very simple in the way I go about my cricket," he says. "Even while I'm training ... I train for long periods of time ... but it's very simple. I focus on things that might come along in the next game. That's how I do everything.
"The game is just about watching the ball, letting your instincts take over and hopefully scoring some runs as a result."
The 30-year-old averages 45 through 24 Tests with five centuries and eight 50s stuffing his stat sheet. England haven't seen the best of him: in four Ashes Tests from Sydney in 2011, he's scratched out 172 runs with just one half-century.
That's not the part that grates him the most: in all of those matches, Australia was on the wrong end of the result.
"My Ashes memories aren't amazing. I haven't won a Test match yet. That would be nice to get one. But it's like any other cricket. There's a lot of hype about Ashes cricket, but once you get on there, it's bat against ball and whoever executes the best wins," Khawaja says.
"It's one thing Boof [Australian coach Darren Lehmann] really harps on a lot about. He's right to an extent ... that's how I try to play my cricket. It can be emotional, more for some than others, but you just play the game. There's a lot of hype around, but you have to perform amid all of that."
With wicketkeeper and No.6 far from settled this close to the first Test, Khawaja is the least of Australia's problems. Given his form, he will be one of the bats England fear most as they try to whittle down the top and middle order.
More pressing could be the form hump of opener Matt Renshaw, who came from the clouds to make his debut last year and is now 10 Tests into his career. Thus far in the Shield season, he's yet to make it past 20.
Khawaja sees little reason for panic, just as he takes little note of England's batting concerns in their tour matches. He believes Renshaw will bounce back hard and is on the verge of a quality innings.
"I think he's looking like he's playing some really good cricket," Khawaja says of Renshaw. "He hasn't got a lot of runs yet, but he's been doing the hard work; getting in, getting a lot of starts, hopefully he can cash in on one of them.
"For me, batting at No.3, it makes my job easier. I've got no doubt he will take advantage of one of those starts. I love batting with Matt. He's a very relaxed individual. He's chilled out and a very level-headed kid. I wasn't like that at his age I'm sure."
Victory aside, Khawaja's ultimate result for the summer would be to score enough runs to render himself undroppable, regardless of the touring destination. Maybe then he would allow himself to feel the energy of cricket's greatest rivalry, so close to its summer start.