Jonathan Trott said he'd exceeded his own expecatations after making a century on Test debut as England strengthened their grip on the Ashes finale in London at the Oval.
Trott's 119 was the cornerstone of England's second innings 373 for nine declared on Saturday's third day of a fifth Test where a win would see the hosts regain the Ashes from Australia with a 2-1 series triumph.
Australia, left needing to make a record 546 for victory, were 80 without loss at stumps.
South Africa born Trott, who made 41 in the first innings, had been thrown in at the deep end by the England selectors after coming in for the dropped Ravi Bopara.
But the 28-year-old responded to the pressure in superb style and shared a valuable partnership of 118 ith England captain Andrew Strauss after England had been 39 for three when the Warwickshire batsman came to the crease.
"At the start of the game the win was the most important thing and it still is," Trott, the 18th England batsman to make a century on debut, told reporters after stumps.
"A personal achievement was an added bonus. I like to think I have contributed and we will have a good day tomorrow (Sunday)".
Trott reinforced his case for a Test call ahead of last week's squad announcement with 121 for Warwickshire, whose cricket director Ashley Giles is also an England selector, against Nottinghamshire.
That was his fourth first-class hundred of the season and took his overall tally to 1,046 runs at an average of 80.46.
But he said a big plus in his innings on Saturday had been the form of the England batsmen around him, with the likes of the free-scoring Graeme Swann (63) doing their best to ease the pressure.
"The guys coming in made it a lot easier for me, they played their natural games. I just ground it out. It wasn't easy but I stuck in there," Trott said.
Trott had previously played international cricket at Twenty20 level for England two years ago without much success.
However, he returned to county cricket determined to up his game.
"I worked with Ashley Giles to get my game in shape. I tried to be consistent in county cricket and knock on the door so I was in the best form and in the best mental state to succeed (at Test level)."
Trott added: "I'm truly honoured to be sitting here after a great day, it's something you work for all your life,starting with my father in the nets aged three."
Television pictures showed Trott's mother Donna in tears when he reached his hundred and her son said: "I just hope she can keep it together for the rest of the match."
Australia need to make over 100 more runs more than the the current fourth innings record victory total of 418 for seven - by West Indies against Australia in Antigua in 2002/03 - if they are to retain the Ashes.
Australia middle-order batsman Marcus North, who took a Test-best four for 98 with his occasional off-spin, admitted: "History is against us. It's a massive target but the best thing we can do is not look too far ahead."
Australia were set 522 to win in the second Test at Lord's and put up a decent fight before losing by 115 runs.
"We batted well at Lord's and laid some foundations," North said. "This is a different Test with different conditions but we need to show the same character."