The five double hundreds of Alastair Cook as England opener breaks MCG record

Sport360 staff 28/12/2017
Alastair Cook registered his fifth double-ton of his career at the MCG.

Alastair Cook’s record-breaking double-century kept England in control of the fourth Ashes Test at the MCG.

Cook (244no), with a best of just 37 in his previous 10 innings, resumed on day three with his 32nd Test hundred already in the book – and what followed was remarkable, especially during a ninth-wicket stand of exactly 100 with Stuart Broad (56), as he made up entirely for the fragility of several team-mates.

England’s all-time record run-scorer beat Wally Hammond’s previous Melbourne Cricket Ground-record 200 for a compatriot, and then surpassed Viv Richards‘ best of 209 from any overseas batsman here.

For England, the bottom line of 491 for nine and a first-innings advantage of 164 were riches indeed after their captain Joe Root (61) and others had briefly invited Australia back into the contest.

Cook also moved up to sixth in the global list of top Test runscorers just before stumps, above the great Brian Lara, having already passed his double-hundred by straight-driving his 360th ball for his 23rd four off Jackson Bird after almost nine-and-a-half hours at the crease.

How the tourists needed his sustained return to form too as they try to avoid a series whitewash, after losing the Ashes in Perth last week.

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Australia vs England: Ashes Player of the Day - Alastair Cook

Ashish Peter 28/12/2017
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Alastair Cook remained unbeaten on 244 as England took charge.

For the second day in succession, Alastair Cook finished the day unbeaten with the bat and had Australia’s players swarming to shake his hand as they left the field of play.

The England opener, who has been under all kinds of pressures leading up to this Test due to his recent failures, showed his unflappable best on the third day of the Boxing Day Ashes Test to register his second double-ton of the year.

Cook remained unbeaten on 244 with No.11 James Anderson for company when stumps were called on day three with England at 491-9, a full 164 runs ahead of the hosts’ first innings total.

Here, we look at the key talking points of Cook’s immaculate double-ton which could not have come at a better time for the former England skipper.

COOK GOES PAST MAHELA, CHANDERPAUL AND LARA IN ONE INNINGS

The left-hander was enduring the worst patch in his 151-Test career having not breached the 50-run mark in his last 10 innings coming into Melbourne. With his one mammoth innings however, the 33-year-old went past three greats in Mahela Jayawardane, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Brian Lara to climb to sixth position in the all-time Test run-scorer list.

The opening batsman went past Lara in the final over of the day to remind everyone that despite being made to look like a mere mortal in the first three Tests, the orthodox batsman actually resides in the highest echelons of the sport which only a select few can dare to dream of.

Cook moved up to sixth in the all-time Test run-scorers list.

Cook moved up to sixth in the all-time Test run-scorers list.

COOK LEAVES MCG MARK

The Melbourne Cricket Ground is one of the most iconic Test venues in the world undoubtedly with its history over the years. Cook’s innings of 244 is now the highest by any visiting batsman at the famous cathedral of sport.

The Essex man broke the record previously held by West Indies legend Viv Richards who had scored 208 runs in 1984.

To put Cook’s feat into context, 111 Test matches have been held at the famous ground since 1877. The opening batsman also holds the record for the highest score by a visiting batsman at the Gabba in Brisbane where he scored an unbeaten 235 in 2010-11.

Cook has etched his name permanently in the history of the MCG.

Cook has etched his name permanently in the history of the MCG.

COOK’S SPECIAL DOUBLE

Cook’s 244, his second double-hundred of the year having registered an unbeaten 243 against the West Indies earlier this year, is the highest score by any Test batsman in 2017. Virat Kohli lies shares the second-highest score with his 243 against Sri Lanka and he, along with Cook, are the only batsmen to have registered more than one double hundred in the calendar year.

It was Cook’s fifth double of his distinguished career so far and his 11th score of 150 plus, the highest by any English batsman. He is the fifth visiting batsman in history to register a double ton at the MCG. Coupled with his 235 at the Gabba, Cook is only the third visiting batsman to register two double hundreds Down Under.

It was a double to savour for the 33-year-old.

It was a double to savour for the 33-year-old.

EPIC NINTH-WICKET PARTNERSHIP WITH STUART BROAD

England were at 373-8 when Stuart Broad walked in to partner Cook at the crease. The two seniors have come under fire from all quarters for their lacklustre performances in the tour so far and therefore, it is only fitting that they are leading the tourists’ redemption song in this Test.

The pair put on 100 runs exactly for the ninth wicket, the first century-stand at that marker for the English against the Aussies since 1926. Broad registered his second fifty of the year in fighting fashion and dented the hosts’ confidence with their stand.

Cook will now have the opportunity to become the first Englishman to carry the bat in a Test since Mike Atherton in 1997. He could also become the first batsman from either side to carry the bat in an Ashes Test since 1979.

Cook's 100-run stand with Broad broke Australia's backs.

Cook’s 100-run stand with Broad broke Australia’s backs.

COOK ROLLS BACK THE CLOCK WITH HIS COVER-DRIVES

If there has to be a yardstick to judge how well Cook is playing, it should be the frequency with which he employs the cover drives. You know that the opener is on song when he brings out the cover-drives and off-drives from his locker.

The left-hander took a more proactive approach in this innings compared to what we have seen in the previous three Tests and it paid off handsomely. Cook scored 68 runs through the cover region in his unbeaten knock, far higher than he accumulated through any other parts of the ground.

He brought up his double-ton with a classical straight drive. Unflinching with his concentration and doggedness which has become his trademark, it was really pleasing to see Cook roll back the years with his elegant drives through the off-side.

The drives through the off-side flowed from Cook's bat on Thursday.

The drives through the off-side flowed from Cook’s bat on Thursday.

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Cook hits double century as England move to strong position in fourth Ashes Test

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Cook answered his critics in fine style in Melbourne.

Alastair Cook reeled off a record-breaking double century to put England in full command of the fourth Ashes Test with a formidable 164-run innings lead in Melbourne on Thursday.

The stoic opener emphatically bounced back after a lean run of scores to finish the day unconquered on 244 off 409 balls. At the close, England were 491 for nine.

Along the way, Cook surpassed the highest score by a visiting batsman in a Test match at the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground, bettering the 208 by West Indian great Viv Richards in 1984.

He earlier bettered Wally Hammond’s 200 set back in 1928 as the highest Test score at the MCG by an Englishman.

Cook’s fifth double-century in 151 Test matches also catapulted him above West Indian Brian Lara to become the sixth highest run-getter in Test cricket with 11,956.

Australia, who already have won back the Ashes with an unassailable 3-0 lead, looked unable to stop the flow of runs in the final session as Stuart Broad supported Cook to take the game away from the hosts.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 28: Alastair Cook of England walks off at the close of play after making 244 not out during day three of the Fourth Test Match in the 2017/18 Ashes series between Australia and England at Melbourne Cricket Ground on December 28, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Cook walks off the field at the MCG.

Broad, who survived a series of hair-raising short-pitched balls, thrived in his partnership with Cook, pushing the tourists beyond 450 on a lifeless pitch.

It needed multiple replays before Broad was finally given out for 56 off 63 balls to a diving outfield catch by Usman Khawaja off Pat Cummins, ending a demoralising 100-run stand off 110 balls with Cook.

Cook cashed in on two dropped catches by Australia skipper Steve Smith along the way to continue the misery for the home side.

Smith, who dropped Cook on 66 in the slips on Wednesday, put down the former England skipper for the second time on 153 in a sharp right-handed chance at square leg.

The tourists lost seven wickets for 299 on the third day with captain Joe Root again failing to convert a half-century into three figures when he top-edged a hook shot off Cummins to Lyon at deep square leg.

Root reached his third half-century of the series but was clearly furious with himself when he holed out on 61 in the morning session.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 28: Stuart Broad of England bats during day three of the Fourth Test Match in the 2017/18 Ashes series between Australia and England at Melbourne Cricket Ground on December 28, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Broad contributed with a crucial knock.

Dawid Malan, a century-maker in the third Test in Perth, was out leg before wicket with Josh Hazlewood’s second delivery of the second new ball for 14.

Malan conferred with Cook before deciding not to review, yet replays showed a distinct ‘Hot Spot’ nick on his bat which would have kept him at the crease if he had challenged the decision.

It follows James Vince’s similar dismissal on Wednesday to Hazlewood for 17, when he also did not seek a review despite ‘Hot Spot’ showing a mark on his bat.

England lost two wickets in the middle session with Jonny Bairstow caught behind off Lyon for 22 and Moeen Ali lashing out for 20 off 14 balls.

It was the sixth time in seven innings in the series that Moeen had been dismissed by fellow off-spinner Lyon.

Chris Woakes gloved a Cummins bouncer to wicketkeeper Tim Paine for 26 shortly after tea, and debutant Tom Curran was caught behind off Hazlewood following a ‘Hot Spot’ review.

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