Ashes: Alastair Cook hits 244 not out as England dominate Australia

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Wind farms
Alastair Cook has been on the field for every minute of the first three days
Fourth Ashes Test, Melbourne Cricket Ground (day three of five)
Australia 327: Warner 103, Smith 76
England 491-9: Cook 244*, Root 61, Broad 56
England lead by 164 runs
Scorecard

Alastair Cook made the highest score by a visiting batsman at the MCG to give England firm control of the Boxing Day Test.

Cook piled on 244 not out, beating the 208 of West Indies legend Sir Viv Richards, as the tourists punished Australia on the third evening of the fourth Ashes Test.

At 307-6, England were in danger of surrendering the initiative, but Cook added 59 with Chris Woakes (26), before a riotous partnership of 100 with Stuart Broad, who swung his way to 56.

In the end, Cook’s third-highest Test score had led England to 491-9, a lead of 164.

On an unresponsive surface, Australia missed injured pace bowler Mitchell Starc but they also created their own problems.

Cook was dropped on 153 by home captain Steve Smith, the same man who offered the former England skipper a reprieve on day two. Woakes also edged between Smith and wicketkeeper Tim Paine on 13.

But that is to take nothing away from England, who have put in a spirited response to surrendering the Ashes after three Tests.

They have an outstanding opportunity to end an eight-match losing streak in Australia and avoid a second successive 5-0 whitewash down under.

Belated cheer for England

Until this point, it has been a hugely disappointing tour for England, who have not only lost the Ashes but been dogged by off-field problems.

Here, though, led by Cook and Broad, they produced a performance reminiscent of their 2010-11 triumph in this country.

When number 10 Broad arrived, they were only 46 ahead on a pitch that could prove difficult for the side batting last.

What followed was terrific entertainment as Broad chanced his arm and Cook ticked off the milestones.

The opener reached his second double century of the year, surpassed Brian Lara to become the sixth highest Test run-scorer of all time, and is line to become the first England batsman for 20 years to carry his bat through a completed innings.

As Australia tired, Cook’s strokeplay grew in class, while Broad’s unpredictability led to increasing levels of frustration for the home side.

It all provided sheer delight to the travelling England fans, who sang throughout. Starc’s replacement, Jackson Bird, has figures of 0-108 and was serenaded with the song that tortured Mitchell Johnson