The Ashes Round-up: Cook a class apart as England claim huge lead

Alastair Cook made history with the highest score by a visiting batsman at the MCG, a stunning, unbeaten 244, as England earned a substantial first-innings lead in the fourth Ashes Test.

After resuming on 104 not out, Cook batted throughout day three and brought up his fifth Test double-hundred in the company of Stuart Broad (56) during an entertaining ninth-wicket partnership of exactly 100.

England - 3-0 down in the series and seeking to avoid a whitewash - ultimately closed on 491-9, Cook having overhauled Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Brian Lara to move up to sixth on the list of all-time Test run-scorers.

 

THE HEADLINES

- Cook, who had made just 83 runs in the series prior to this match, ended day three with a new highest score against Australia, surpassing the unbeaten 235 he made in Brisbane seven years ago. At stumps on Thursday, he had faced 409 deliveries and struck 27 fours.

- For the second day running, Cook was given a life by Steve Smith. Australia's captain dropped a chance at square-leg when Cook had 153, having put him down at slip on 66 the previous day.

- After Joe Root had fallen for 61 early on day three, England lost wickets at regular intervals before Broad counter-attacked superbly alongside Cook to record the first Test fifty by an England number 10 since 1991.

 

MOMENT OF THE DAY

Cook's delight was there for all to see after he drove Jackson Bird down the ground for four to bring up a magnificent double-hundred, before celebrating with fellow veteran Broad.

 

OPTA FACTS

- Alastair Cook is only the second Englishman to score multiple double-centuries in a calendar year. Wally Hammond achieved the feat in 1928, 1933, 1936.

- Cook and Broad shared England's highest ninth-wicket partnership at the MCG, beating a stand of 89 between Ian Botham and John Lever in 1980.

- Joe Root's fifty-to-century conversion rate in England is 10/27 (37.0%). His conversion rate outside England is 3/21 (14.2%).

 

REACTION

"He played bloody well the whole day, didn't he? He's been under some pressure in the first three Test matches, but he's certainly responded really well today and yesterday," Australia coach Darren Lehmann pays gracious tribute to Cook in an interview with ABC Grandstand.

"I feel a bit sorry for him!" Cook jokes about passing Brian Lara in the list of Test run-scorers.

CAN ENGLAND CAPITALISE?

England now have a great chance to claim their first win of the series, with Lehmann conceding a draw is likely to be the best his side can now hope to achieve. On a wicket that remains good for batting, Australia must now attempt to follow Cook's lead.

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