Ian Bell's memories of England rejection have spurred him on to set his sights on history in tomorrow's final Test against Pakistan.

Dropped for the opening Test of the summer against Sri Lanka at Lord's, the Warwickshire batsman's route back into England's side appeared blocked. But a recurrence of Andrew Flintoff's ankle problems opened a route back, initially just for the first Test against Pakistan and he has seized his chance spectacularly.

Bell has hit 100 not out, 116 not out and 119 in the last three Tests and should he continue that sequence at The Oval, he would join Herbert Sutcliffe, Wally Hammond and Denis Compton as the only other England players to score four centuries in a series.

He explained: "When I went to Lord's for the first Test, I thought it was a oneoff and came out of that with a hundred and thought I'd done what I needed to.

"That changed when Fred [Flintoff] was ruled out, but the one thing I really wanted to do was to achieve some consistency because I think that's probably been lacking before. I've scored some runs and followed that with some low scores."

Should Bell cap a memorable summer with another century, it would complete a remarkable turnaround.

Overlooked after being named in the squad for the Lord's Test against Sri Lanka, the selectors preferred Alastair Cook and Bell was presented with the long drive home.

He admitted: "Being left out of the Sri Lanka Test and driving away from Lord's that morning was quite hard. It's not something I want to be doing again.

"It was a real chance to correct a few things which I thought weren't right and work on areas I believe I can get better in - that setback and being left out has definitely helped me.

"I've always enjoyed my cricket but I'm not sure I always believed I should be out there and good enough for that level. Now I believe I am. My body language has been better, which is something I've gone away and worked on. I try to have a bit more presence when I'm out there.

"I don't want to come across as a young player coming up against some world-class players and not looking them in the eye."

Should another century follow, he would become only the second Englishman after Ken Barrington to score hundreds in four successive Tests, but he has learned not to take anything for granted. He said: "That would be pretty amazing, but I can't start thinking about that now."