Durham and England cricketer Mark Wood ended 2015 in style after being crowned best international newcomer at the Sports Journalists Association British Sports Awards.
He now joins an elite hall of fame of previous winners of the Peter Wilson Trophy including Steve Davis (snooker), Wayne Rooney and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (football), Amir Khan (boxing), Andy Murray (tennis), Lewis Hamilton (Formula 1) and Moeen Ali (cricket).
The Ashington-born right armer, who still lives in Wansbeck, made a sensational impact after making his England debut in all three formats of the game last year.
He claimed an iconic moment at Nottinghamshire’s Trent Bridge in August when he took the final wicket against Australia which won back the Ashes.
Wood, who will celebrate his 26th birthday early next week, was taken aback after receiving the accolade at the event held in London’s Grand Connaught Rooms.
“It came as a total surprise and I was a bit embarrassed,” he said.
“They showed the clip of me taking the wicket which clinched the Ashes, which allowed me a minute to relax before being interviewed and having a questions and answers session with Jim Rosenthal.
“He mentioned about how I came into the limelight and how people were interested in where I came from – a small mining town in Ashington best known for it’s footballers like the Charlton brothers; Steve Harmison and now Mark Wood.
“Andrew Strauss, the director of English cricket, outlined before the summer of our need to be more approachable and hopefully winning this trophy shows we are on the right track.”
Wood, on the road to recovery after an ankle operation, has been watching every ball bowled in South Africa, and after England won the first test, was furthermore delighted by developments in the current second test in Cape Town which began on Saturday.
Wood’s close friend Ben Stokes smashed the fastest double century for his country and the second fastest in history.
Wood said: “Ben is my big pal. We both play at Durham and travel together and I was delighted for him. He was phenomenal.
“From my point of view, I want my England mates to do well and I still support them, but it is also frustrating as I want to be over there with them.”
Wood outlined his forthcoming programme: “I have just started running again and working out in the gym.
“At the end of January I will be going to South Africa for a training schedule then I will be focusing on starting the season with Durham in April before England face Sri Lanka in Test matches in May.”