Prior, who became the first wicketkeeper to win the annual accolade, beat last year's recipient James Anderson and Cook - who were both also short-listed. Cook, for all his prolific run-scoring and success as captain in two formats, has yet to win the award - a fact not lost on Prior.
The wicketkeeper will not be crowing about an honour of which he believes any one of several team-mates might have been equally deserving recipients. But he was not entirely averse either to joking at his captain's expense, saying: "Everyone congratulated me, except Cooky ... so maybe that says something!"
He added: "Jimmy Anderson's performance in India - for a seamer bowler to perform like he did was phenomenal - that's worth a player-of-the-year award.
"Then there's Cooky, the way he led from the front in India. There are a number of guys who have put in huge performances. They've obviously just pulled a name out of the hat! So I'm hugely honoured - but it could have been a number of guys."
Prior, whose year was capped by an heroic unbeaten century to help somehow draw the Auckland Test in March, is renowned as a selfless cricketer.
He explained what makes him tick when he takes to the field.
"Anytime I go out to play an innings, the first thing you think about is what you need to do to get into the best position to win or save a game," he added.
"It's 'what do I need to do to get the scoreboard in the right place', rather than 'how many runs do I need to average 50'. I just can't perform like that. I can't do it.
"There have been times in the past where people have said 'you need to look after that bit, or get more not-outs'. I'm not saying I'm the ultimate team player. It's just the way I play sport - to win. That's where I get the enjoyment from."