England may not have won the match but Cook’s gritty innings has certainly infused some life in the series that had become one-sided.
Alastair Cook’s feet are not moving. He is falling over. He is vulnerable to the short ball. He is hanging back too much.
He has, ultimately, become Nathan Lyon’s bunny.
A blink of the eye though and vintage Cook is back. The whip off the hips, the trademark pull, and the straight drive are all back.
As Cook caressed the ball to the boundary to bring up his 5th double century, the entire MCG audience stood up in appreciation. The fact that he brought up the double ton with his iconic on-drive at a time when his team needed it the most made it all the more special.
Fighting the odds
Cook had managed only 83 runs in six innings prior to his knock of 244, coming in for a lot of criticism from pundits and fans alike.
With the likes of Keaton Jennings and Haseeb Hameed waiting in the wings, the pressure was certainly mounting on Cook to perform. His inability to reach a half-century in his last 10 innings since his double century against West Indies was taking its toll.
Now with runs in his kitty and the head held high, Cook said, "I always feel I have the backing of the selectors, but you have to deliver the goods. I hadn't done that on this tour. I would have been entitled to be dropped."
Now that’s a comeback
When Cook reached his 32nd hundred, in the last over of day 2, he fittingly had Captain Root at the other end. Apart from some assistance from Root and then Stuart Broad lower down the order, the old warhorse waged a lone battle. Facing the Aussies valiantly for 634 minutes, he showed one and all that he still had a lot of hunger.
Running out of partners at the other end, he kept going about his business in typical Cook manner. For him, the battle was as mental as it was physical. When he finally reached the 200-run mark, even the generally poker-faced Cook bore the widest of smiles.
One of the sights of the day was when the former English captain danced down the wicket and lofted Lyon over mid on. There was a tinge of liberation in that shot. It gave the sense of those glory days when Cook used to thrash the spinners day in and day out.
Over the course of his 244 runs, Cook broke several records. He has now scored a century in all five major Australian venues- Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney and now Melbourne as well. Among non-Australians, only Sunil Gavaskar had achieved this distinction.
He became the batsman to score most runs by anyone who has carried his bat in a Test innings. The earlier record was held by New Zealand opening batsman Glenn Turner who had scored an unbeaten 223 while carrying his bat against the West Indies at Kingston in 1972.
This was his 11th 150+ score, the most by an English batsman. He also equaled Steve Waugh’s record of 32 hundreds. Cook moved past Viv Richards' 208 to notch the highest score by a touring batsman at the MCG.
The highest run-getter for England in Tests surpassed two further West Indies legends to attain the sixth spot on the all-time list of top-scorers in Tests, eclipsing Shivnarine Chanderpaul (11,867) and then Brian Lara (11,953).
© Cricket World 2017