Alastair Cook has admitted to doubts about his place in the team and embarrassment at his poor form before the record-breaking double-century which has put England in control of the fourth Test.
Cook’s unbeaten 244 at the MCG followed six innings totalling 83 runs down under as England lost the first three matches and therefore the Ashes before Christmas.
He has returned to form, belatedly but with a vengeance, in time at least to end any realistic prospect of a third 5-0 whitewash in England’s last four Ashes tours.
His 10-hour vigil has brought him the highest individual score for any overseas batsman at this famous venue, superseding Viv Richards’ 208 in 1984/85, and also taken him above Brian Lara into sixth in the list of all-time top Test run-scorers.
Stuart Broad (56) helped Cook put on 100 for the ninth wicket as England closed day three on 491 for nine, with a lead of 164.
It all makes a mockery of the opener’s struggles since his 243 in the day-night Test in Birmingham four months ago.
Asked whether he was worried he could be dropped because of them, he said: “You don’t know, do you?
“I would have been entitled to be…just because I literally hadn’t scored a run since Edgbaston.
“It was very frustrating.”
In a BT Sport interview, Cook added: “The whole tour I’ve been struggling…and I was a bit embarrassed by my performance, but at least today I’ve gone on and got a big one.
“It’s never going to be pretty, my batting, but sometimes it’s effective.”
In a press conference shortly afterwards, he was asked if he had doubted himself.
“Yes, 100 per cent,” he said.
“I’ve doubted myself for 12 years – and I’ll probably continue to doubt myself.
“Obviously the longer it [a bad run] goes, the harder it becomes.
“So I suppose that’s why I’m quite proud…going to the well again and delivering a performance like that.
“It’s just a shame it’s three-and-a-half to four weeks too late. I’ll have to live with that for a long time.”
The 33-year-old never contemplated calling time on his stellar career, though.
“I’ve never thought like that,” he said.
“I’ve always thought about fighting hard.”
As for his move ever further up the all-time global batting charts, Cook dipped into self-deprecation.
“I can’t really explain that…I probably feel a bit sorry for Brian Lara,” he said.
“(But) it’s obviously a special moment to see your name up there.
“Most of my runs are pretty ugly runs – quite hard work.”
Cook’s innings featured some outstanding strokeplay among his 27 fours, and he added: “I suppose I did have nothing to lose in one sense, so I said, ‘Right, I’m going to play a bit more positively’.
“This tour, batting for half-an-hour has felt like two hours.
“Then for some reason, the last 10 hours have gone quickly…it’s not quite so much fun when you don’t know where your next run is coming from.”
It has all left Australia acknowledging a stalemate is surely the best they can achieve over the next two days.
You can watch his very honest post-match interview below.
Their coach Darren Lehmann gave little credence to the suggestion they may somehow still push for victory.
“We’re 160 runs behind, mate…we’d have to get 450 in a day,” he said.
“How do you want us to do that? Slog?
“We’re just going to be passing them by stumps tomorrow night. So what do you want us to set them?”
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