Having flown across the world from an A-team tour of the Caribbean to join the full England squad in India, the 21-year-old Alastair Cook was immediately pitched into a Test debut at opener in unforgiving foreign climes. Replacing Marcus Trescothick, who had departed due to personal problems that would end his international career within 12 months, Cook made 60 in the first innings and then followed that up with a debut century - the first "Chef" special.
With Trescothick back in the team to resume his opening partnership with Andrew Strauss, Cook moved down to bat at No. 3. A solid showing against Sri Lanka was followed by a first home hundred, at Lord's, in the subsequent Pakistan series; Cook then made his third century in seven Tests at Old Trafford as the plaudits began to pile up.
Trescothick's troubles ruled him out of England's next overseas commitment, the Ashes in Australia. Cook found life tougher against McGrath, Warne and co, with Ricky Ponting's men bent on revenge for their defeat in 2005, but did manage to record a first Ashes hundred in Perth. Cook passed 1000 Test runs during the series but England left chastened and whitewashed 5-0.
Cook enjoys his most prolific series to date, scoring centuries at Lord's and Old Trafford for the second summer in succession as West Indies are wiped out 3-0.
Another ton on the subcontinent, this time helping to salvage a draw in Galle. After England are bowled out for 81 in the first innings and made to follow on, Cook spends 285 balls out in the Sri Lankan heat to score 118 and once again showcase his remarkable powers of concentration. None of his team-mates manages more than 34.
A period characterised by regular useful starts at the top of the innings combined with a failure to convert to three figures followed. In 15 Tests against New Zealand, South Africa, India and West Indies, Cook makes 10 half-centuries but is unable to add to his tally of seven Test hundreds.
Despite this, he is named as Strauss' deputy for the tour to the Caribbean. In the wake of Peter Moores' departure as coach and Kevin Pietersen losing the captaincy, Andy Flower and Strauss take charge of the team; the young Cook is now a senior figure.
After 14 months without a century, things finally clicked back into place, as Cook made his highest score in the drawn Test in Bridgetown. Having fallen for 94 as England racked up 600 for 6 declared in the first innings, it may have felt like his vertigo was becoming incurable but he cruised past the mark second time round to record an unbeaten 139, becoming at 24 years and 67 days the youngest Englishman to 3000 Test runs in the process.
Cook's mentor, Graham Gooch, is fond of preaching about the need for batsmen to make "daddy" hundreds. His pupil went past 150 for the first time against West Indies at Chester-le-Street, putting on a double-century stand for the second wicket with fellow Essex academy graduate Ravi Bopara.
Although the series is a testing one for Cook personally, he is involved in a successful Ashes campaign for the first time. The highlight was a rollicking 95 at Lord's, where he and Strauss put on 196 in 47.5 overs on the first morning to set the platform for victory.
Cook's century in Durban helps England to victory in the second Test against South Africa, although they are eventually pegged back to draw the series 1-1.
Strauss is rested for the tour of Bangladesh, with Cook taking on the Test captaincy for the first time. He makes 173 in Chittagong and follows that up with another ton in Dhaka, leading England to a comfortable 2-0 win.
Cook experienced a difficult home summer back in the ranks, with a top score of 29 in eight innings against Bangladesh and Pakistan. To a background of murmurs about his place in the side ahead of the Ashes in Australia, he dug in to make a hundred at The Oval; England lost the match but Cook was secure.
In the first Test Down Under, England are under pressure, trailing by 221 on first innings in Brisbane. Initially in partnership with Strauss, then Jonathan Trott, Cook bats - and bats and bats and bats - his team out of trouble. An unbeaten 235 helps England to pile up 517 for 1, saving the game and sapping Australian will, not to mention breaking Don Bradman's record for the highest Test score at the Gabba.
England went on to seize the initiative in Adelaide, where Cook contributed 148, and despite a hiccup in Perth they retained the Ashes with victory in the fourth Test. At the SCG, England wrapped up their first win in Australia since 1986-87, with Cook plundering 189 to take his series tally to a mammoth 766 at an average of 127.66. It was the best return by an England batsman in Australia since Wally Hammond in 1928-29.
Having been named England's ODI captain at the start of the month, Cook prolongs his Test purple patch by scoring centuries against Sri Lanka at Cardiff and Lord's. Although England only win the series 1-0, Cook's run haul is 390 in four innings.
Cook only produced one innings of note during England's whitewashing of India to claim the No. 1 Test ranking - but what an innings it was. In between scores of 12, 1, 2, 5 and 34, Cook gorged on India's bowling to the tune of 294 at Edgbaston, making the highest score by an England player since Gooch's 333 in 1990. He was disappointed not to go further, however, after being caught on the boundary with his own triple in sight.
England flunk badly in their first Test outing since topping the rankings. The low point is the second Test in Abu Dhabi, where Cook's 94 looks to have helped them to a match-winning position, only for England to collapse for 72 chasing 145 in the fourth innings.
Cook's only ton of the summer comes at The Oval against South Africa but that contribution is put into perspective by Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla - who makes 311 not out - as South Africa win by an innings. Defeat at Lord's in the third and final Test confirms South Africa as the new No. 1s and heralds a significant change for Cook and England...
With the announcement of Strauss' retirement, the Test captaincy passes to the man long groomed as his successor. At 27, and approaching a host of English batting records, Cook will now lead in two formats.
Cook was unable to reverse England's habit of starting poorly overseas on his first tour as permanent captain, in India, as England lost heavily in Ahmedabad. He did, however, lead the second-innings resistance, making 176 after England were made to follow on and showing his players the way to bat in testing subcontinental conditions.
Having stemmed the tide, Cook now led the counterattack. After another century in Mumbai, where he and Pietersen gave England a match-winning total, Cook grinds India into the dust with 190 in Kolkata, as England go 2-1 up in the series. In the process, he becomes England's leading century-maker in Tests, with 23; the youngest player to pass 7000 runs in Test cricket, breaking Sachin Tendulkar's record; and the only player to have scored centuries in his first five Tests as captain. The success doesn't stop there, as England hold on to win their first tour in India for 28 years.
Cook scores his sixth hundred as captain, helping to save the first Test in New Zealand. England are second best in a stodgy series, having to bat out 143 overs in Auckland to secure a 0-0 draw.
Back in England, New Zealand were rolled twice, with Cook compiling his 25th Test ton at Headingley. Despite losing in the final of the Champions Trophy, England appeared in good shape for the Ashes.
There is no pressure for an England captain to bear like an Ashes series and Cook's form with the bat dips markedly under sustained attack from Australia's seam line-up. He makes just three half-centuries, including one at Chester-le-Street as England clinched the series, averaging 27.70 whilst also being criticised for his "unimaginative" captaincy. For all that England are below their best, however, the 3-0 scoreline is their biggest margin of victory over Australia since the 1970s and gives them a third consecutive Ashes triumph.
Attempting to beat Australia for a fourth time in a row for the first time since the 19th century, England suffer a shellacking in Brisbane and quickly slip 2-0 down in Adelaide. A match return of four runs in the second Test was Cook's worst since the watershed defeat in Kingston at the start of 2009. Another 5-0 defeat marked the end of an era for the team.
England complete a come-from-behind 3-1 series win over India, easing the pressure that had begun to mount on Cook's captaincy - he contemplated quitting after England were beaten by Sri Lanka at the start of the summer. Cook's own form was patchy but the ovation he received after scoring 95 at the Ageas Bowl reflected his standing in the eyes of the public.
Cook admitted that he had to overcome a sense of "denial" about a fallow batting period after he scored his first Test hundred in 23 months against West Indies in Barbados. His 26th Test hundred was an attritional affair and came at the end of a miserable period that had seen him lose England's one-day captaincy and be omitted from their World Cup squad in Australia and New Zealand as well as being cast reluctantly in a leading role in England's long-running stand-off with Pietersen.
Another hundred quickly followed as England won a thrilling Test against New Zealand at Lord's. In the second match of the series, at Headingley, Cook went past Gooch's tally of 8900 runs to become his country's leading Test run-scorer - although it couldn't prevent a defeat which led to the series being drawn 1-1.
With his captaincy showing marked improvement, Cook marshals another Ashes success. England took an unassailable 3-1 lead after victory at Trent Bridge - where Australia were blown away for 60 - as a young team began to thrive under Cook's leadership.
Cook scored his 28th Test hundred on the tour of the UAE - a mammoth innings of 263 that spanned almost 14 hours, the third-longest in Test history - although England were beaten 2-0. His own returns were less impressive in South Africa but England's resurgence continued as they won in Centurion and Johannesburg to claim the series and add another feather to Cook's cap.
In an otherwise low-key victory over Sri Lanka at Chester-le-Street, Cook became the first Englishman to score 10,000 Test runs when he clipped Nuwan Pradeep for four in the second innings.
Heading back to the scene of perhaps his greatest triumph as captain, Cook scored a century in the drawn first Test at Rajkot. It was to be his last in charge of the side; England lost the next four Tests to be crushed 4-0. After a tough winter, which included a first defeat to Bangladesh during a 1-1 draw, Cook decided to step down, having led England in more Tests than any other man.
Under his successor, Joe Root, Cook seemed to quickly settle in as top-order senior statesman. He played important innings against South Africa at Lord's and The Oval, as Root's tenure began with a 3-1 win, and then scored his fourth Test double-hundred to set up an innings victory over West Indies in the first day-night Test in England.
England's Ashes defence begins badly in Brisbane, with Cook out for single-figure scores in each innings. His returns improve slightly in Adelaide but, despite still being just 32, questions about his future start to be voiced. All of which increases the scrutiny ahead of Cook's 150th appearances...
*This is an updated version of a piece first published in December, 2013 to mark Cook's 100th Test