Alastair Cook is determined to "cash in" on his remarkable Test form when England take on Sri Lanka in the second npower Test at Lord’s.
Cook continued his Ashes form with 133 in England’s innings and 14 runs victory in the series opener and has made five centuries in his last ten Test knocks ahead of the Lord’s encounter.
The 26-year-old had been struggling ahead of the Ashes though and his place had been under pressure before a vital century against Pakistan at the Oval.
Cook said: "Things 12 months ago were really stop start when I couldn’t score a run.
"When I think about where things were this time last year and where they are now - I realise I’ve got to cash in and really appreciate it."
Setting an example
Cook’s heavy run-making has seen him rise to a career high position of fifth in the ICC Test batting rankings.
The opener’s story could prove inspiration for team mate Kevin Pietersen who is in a similar position to that of Cook 12 months ago.
Pietersen, once considered one of the premier batsmen in the international game, is struggling to find form and consistency and there have been whispered doubts about his Test place.
Cook though says any batsman can draw from his experience to resurrect their form.
"It is a lesson to a lot of players that it can turn around." he added.
"You’ve just got to keep trying really hard and hopefully get through it."
Cook was speaking exclusively to Lords.org at the Brit Insurance England Player of the Year dinner in the famous Lord’s Long Room.
Despite his magnificent year with the bat, Cook was pipped to the award by the equally prolific Jonathan Trott.
Trott, who averages an astronomical 223 at Lord’s, also beat James Anderson (out injured for the Lord’s Test) to the award.
Cook praised Trott’s impact on the side since his debut in August 2009 but says the heavy competition for the accolade reflects the rising power of English cricket.
"Jonathan has been the rock of our middle order and a revelation since coming into the side." Cook said.
"There were probably a number of other candidates - players like Jimmy - but that’s the kind of standard we’re playing to now.
"It’s taken something remarkable from Trotty to nudge others into second place.
"That’s what’s so exciting about this team - the performances have gone up to another level over the last 12 months.
"To continue that and continue that drive to become world number one is crucial for us moving forward."
Anderson meanwhile, who was presented with the Moment of the Year for his now cult sledging incident with Mitchell Johnson during the Perth Test, admitted he was bitterly disappointed to miss the Lord’s Test with a side strain.
"It’s a frustrating injury. Day to day I don’t feel it but when I bowl there is some discomfort and you can’t take any risks with it." Anderson said.
"Lord’s is pretty much everyone’s favourite ground to play at in the world. I’m sad to have to miss any Test but for it to be at Lord’s makes it even more so."