All-rounder Samit Patel admitted he thought his England chance had gone, after receiving his first international call-up for two and a half years.
Zafar Ansari's hand injury meant Patel was drafted in for England's forthcoming three-Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
"I was not expecting a Test call," Patel, 30, told BBC Radio Nottingham.
"I thought the door was closed on Test cricket. It's unfortunate for Zafar but I have to make the most of it."
The Nottinghamshire man played five Tests, all in Asia in 2012 against Sri Lanka and India, and featured in 36 one-day internationals and 18 Twenty20 internationals between 2008 and February 2013.
As a left-arm spinner, Patel is a like-for-like replacement for Surrey's Ansari, but accepts he will likely start the tour as third-choice spinner after the incumbent Moeen Ali and Yorkshire's Adil Rashid, who is uncapped at Test level but was in England's squads throughout the summer.
"I think I will be behind Moeen and Rash to play, but I am just happy to get on the trip," he added. "I was planning to go on holiday to Dubai next week, so this is a pleasant surprise.
"When I didn't get picked against Sri Lanka, I wondered whether this day would ever come again. I would like to get more of a role with the bat but I will bat anywhere."
England arrive in the UAE on 30 September, with the first Test starting in Abu Dhabi on 13 October.
|Samit Patel's international statistics|
|Tests (5)||ODIs (36)||T20Is (18)|
|Runs||109 (av 15.57)||482 (av 32.13)||189 (av 15.75)|
|Wickets||4 (av 64.25)||24 (av 45.45)||7 (av 45.85)|