He might have been nearing his 20th birthday before he learned how to drive a car, but Jhye Richardson has long known his life’s destination and the transit points he needed to visit along the way.

From the time he entered teenage-hood, the lightly built boy who could bowl a cricket ball frighteningly fast and thus modelled himself on South Africa speedster Dale Steyn set his sights on playing for Australia in a Baggy Green Cap.

Today, on a steamy Brisbane afternoon under the proud gaze of his parents (Jim and Karen) and his girlfriend of more than four years (Jessica Moxham), the 22-year-old realised his dream.

And immediately set about plotting his onward journey by producing the best debut bowling figures that Australia’s Test team has seen since the days when Richardson was still relying on family and friends to get him to and from cricket engagements.

Nobody who was been privy to the Western Australian’s prowess with ball in hand would have been surprised that he scythed through Sri Lanka’s fragile top-order to remove their two most-credentialled batters – captain Dinesh Chandimal and rising star Kusal Mendis.

But those with a more rudimentary understanding of fast bowling who expect the craft’s exponents to be big-boned, burly lads the likes of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins would surely have succumbed to a double-take when Richardson first bustled in.

The archetypal image of top-notch quicks is that of men towering more than six-feet six-inches in the old scale, thumping the ball into the pitch and then following through to glare down at diminutive rivals who might dare withstand their fury.

Richardson, by contrast, is five-feet ten in imperial measure and considered himself to be so lacking in physical presence that, at age 15, he forewent Australian rules football at which he was highly accomplished and turned his steely focus exclusively to cricket.

With his athletic intent overtaking the competing need to pursue tertiary education upon completing secondary school, Richardson meticulously plotted his path to his unabashed ambition.

He set his aim for Premier Cricket in Perth, from where he would graduate to state competition and then – according to his unwavering career blueprint – on to international ranks.

Each incremental move was mapped with precision, and attacked with such single-minded intent that he has eschewed alcohol and associated nocturnal outings throughout his young life.

And as Jim and Karen (and in the latter years, Jessica) all noted with quiet admiration, that commitment has meant his aspirations were all systematically ticked off.

“This has been the pinnacle of a journey we’ve been on since he was about 10 years old,” Jim Richardson told cricket.com.au today, having added attendance at his son’s Test cap presentation to those he oversaw at the Gabba a year ago (ODI debut) and Geelong a year before that (T20I).

“It’s not surreal because he’s always had the plan.

“He’s set himself goals – to play first-grade cricket, to play for his state, and to play for Australia – and he’s achieved them.

“There have been so many things that he’s achieved – getting the international caps, getting (India captain Virat) Kohli out (in three consecutive ODIs this month).

“But the highlight for us has been simply seeing him achieving those goals that he’s clearly set himself, watching him reach each one of those was such a buzz because he has said all along ‘that is what I want to do’ and he’d set about getting there.

“So while this is basically the end of a long road, it’s also the start of a new journey.

“Now that he’s there, the next goal is to stay there.”

Having completed one day’s work as a Test cricketer, Richardson has already made a solid start to realising that next ambition.

Brought into the starting XI due to the back injury sustained by vice-captain Josh Hazlewood, the rookie returned the best debut bowling figures since the man he replaced snared 5-68 in his maiden outing against India, also at the Gabba, in 2014.

But now that he’s scaled the peak he began eyeing from such a distance a decade ago, the fiercely competitive quick is wary of looking too much further into the future for fear of slipping back down the slope he’s so painstakingly scaled.

“Something I’ve learned really quickly over the last six to twelve months from a mental side of things – we know how much a mental game cricket is – is to be present,” he told today’s post-match media conference.

“I know it’s a bit of a cliché to say you need to be present, but it’s so relevant with cricket.

“As soon as you starting thinking about what is ahead, or what could come up all these different emotions get the better of you, you starting trying harder and you might not be bowling at your best.

“For me, concentrating on day two (tomorrow) is my next focus.”

Having spent so many years envisaging the moment that he joined that exclusive club of Australia men’s Test players – a cohort that now extends to 458 representatives across almost 142 years – he was understandably anxious when handed his cap by number 361 on that honour roll, Damien Fleming.

The anxiety that had begun to well within him upon learning of his inclusion immediately after Australia’s final pre-Test training run on Wednesday afternoon was effectively quelled by the knowledge his parents and partner would be with him come match morning.

Through her employment as a travel agent, Jessica had deftly organised trans-continental flights for the trio from Perth, where they departed at 11pm Wednesday night to touch down in Brisbane around 5am today.

With barely enough time to grab a few hours’ sleep before Richardson was anointed as a Test player.

“There’s so much emotion going through your body and you’re not sure how to deal with it at that present moment,” he admitted this evening.

“Excitement, a lot of anxious feelings, but luckily enough I had time to get my parents and girlfriend here.

“That was a big help in being able to settle myself down coming into the game, which was really exciting for me and obviously the cap presentation this morning was even better.”

Jim Richardson notes that while his son can be relied upon to provide comic relief in most elements of his life, when it comes to cricket he is unremittingly earnest.

It’s reflected in his no-nonsense gait as he stalks back to his bowling mark or busies himself in the field, looking more like an office worker pushing through a lunchtime throng en route to an urgent assignment than a notoriously languid fast bowler conserving valuable energy.

As Jess also confides, his approach to cricket can be gleaned by his domestic routines.

He’s habitually untidy around home and hotel rooms that are left looking like stocktake sale clearance tables in his wake, yet his cricket kit is kept obsessively neat and ordered.

Yet there’s occasional incongruity in the carefully constructed career path that Richardson has sketched out, and slavishly followed.

He covets the notional plot of land on the moon that his brother purchased on-line as a 21st birthday gift for Jhye in September 2017.

And among the items that his hairdresser mother first put into her suitcase for the rushed trip eastwards yesterday were her tools of trade because, since he was born, he’s refused to let anyone other than his mum cut his hair.

Whether he’s prepared to remove the new Baggy Green long enough to allow a full trim during his parents’ current visit to Brisbane remains unknown.

But if the current upward trajectory of his career plan should take him to the World Cup tournament and subsequent Ashes series in the UK later this year, then Jessica will have her hands full designing travel itineraries for the trio.

And Karen Richardson will need to be close at hand, with styling scissors at the ready.