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Ashes: Alastair Cook hits back at critics after master innings | Cricket | Sport

Ashes: Alastair Cook hits back at critics after master innings | Cricket | Sport 897549 1

Ashes: Alastair Cook hits back at critics after master innings | Cricket | Sport 468x60 club cash banner

But what he will also carry, should he get the chance to bat again here at the MCG or else next week in Sydney, is a renewed belief he can continue to defy them for as long as he wants following one of the greatest efforts of his career.

The timing of his fifth double hundred was, he admitted, imperfect. Had it come three weeks earlier England might have been landing a significant blow on Australia rather than merely halting their march to a whitewash.

But it was both needed by England, who want to avoid the sort of end-of-tour implosion which ripped through the squad four years ago, and perfect in terms of the answers it provided to doubts about whether he still had what it takes to succeed.

When Cook met a half-volley from Jackson Bird perfectly, punching the ball back past the bowler and down to the rope in front of the sight screen to bring up his double century, he trotted calmly down the wicket smiling.

There was a serenity about the moment which contrasted with the emotions he displayed on reaching his hundred the night before.

“It was emotional last night from where I have been on this tour and it meant a lot. But today I was just proud I managed to back it up and get a big one for the team,” he said.

If the two scenes present evidence of business as usual for Cook it is very good News for England and Joe Root as they try to salvage something from the wreckage of this unsuccessful tour.

Cook started the day on 104 and with the help of a series of partnerships he was the comforting and familiar glue for England to engineer a commanding position in this Test, one which at the end of day three Australia coach Darren Lehmann conceded had taken a third 5-0 whitewash in four tours out of their grasp.

Along the way, the records tumbled. Cook had climbed above Mahela Jayawardene into eighth in the all-time runs list when reaching 103 the previous night. Once underway he passed Shivnarine Chanderpaul on reaching 156, and right near the end of the day Brian Lara into sixth place when reaching 244.

Steve Smith gave him a second helping hand when dropping a relatively simple chance at square leg when Cook had 153. But the rest was Cook’s own work and it was, for the most part, mighty impressive.

Along the way there were other milestones. With his double hundred he joined Lara and Wally Hammond as the only overseas players to score two doubles on Australian soil. And he eclipsed Viv Richards’ 208 as the highest score made by a visiting batsman at the MCG.

Cook remained self-effacing when presented with the evidence and the names from cricket’s history. When he was asked how it felt to pass Lara in the runs list he smiled and said: “I can’t really explain that. I probably feel a bit sorry for Brian Lara.” Yet there is no doubting he deserves to be among such exalted company.

Cook was in more modest company for the main. After his partnership with Root ended on 128 he was joined and helped by several others, most notably Chris Woakes and then Stuart Broad.

Root had been furious with himself after mistiming a pull horribly to fall when on 61 – the 22nd time in his last 27 half-centuries when he has failed to convert into a full one.

Dawid Malan did the same as James Vince in failing to request a review to an lbw when he got an inside edge, and when Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali, the latter with a frenzied cameo which would have been more at home in the Big Bash, failed it was left to the lower order.

Aside from Tom Curran, they did Cook and England proud, with the opener and Woakes adding 59 for the seventh wicket and then Broad adding 100 for the ninth and reaching his own half-century into the bargain.

Even Jimmy Anderson helped add a further 18 despite not scoring, before the pair walked off to generous applause for the second night running.

Cook had been batting for 10 hours but insisted the time had “gone quickly”. The good news for England is that there appears fuel left in the tank.

Source : EXPRESS

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