Alastair Cook produced a master-class in concentration by scoring an unbeaten double century to put his team in complete control of the fourth Ashes Test against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Thursday. (LIVE SCORECARD)
Already England's greatest run-scorer, the 33-year-old opener stonewalled Australia's bowling attack for more than 10 ½ hours, eclipsing a stack of historical batting records along the way as the tourists piled on 491 for nine at stumps in reply to Australia's 327, a lead of 164 with one first-innings wicket in hand.
Cook became the first Englishman since Wally Hammond to score a double hundred at the MCG (in 1928) and his 244 not out is now the highest score made by any player against Australia in Melbourne, breaking the 208 Viv Richards made for the West Indies in 1984.
Cook also overtook Mahela Jayawardene, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Brian Lara to move into outright sixth place among Test cricket's all-time leading scorers while posting the fifth double ton of his career.
After resuming on 104, Cook reached his 200 after tea when he drove Jackson Bird straight down the ground for four. He was dropped twice by the Australian captain Steve Smith, on 66 then again on 153, but hardly played another false shot during a marathon innings.
By the time stumps were drawn, Cook had batted a total of 634 minutes, faced 409 balls and struck 27 boundaries. He walked off to a standing ovation with his team in a great position to salvage a consolation win after losing the first three matches in the five-Test series to surrender the Ashes.
Cook had managed a meagre total of just 83 runs from the first three Tests but was well supported by England's lower order, which had also struggled in the previous matches, when he needed their help most.
Stuart Board made a swashbuckling 56 batting at 10, and was at the non-striker's end when Cook passed the major his milestones, while Chris Woakes (26), Jonny Bairstow (22) and Moeen Ali (20) all made important contributions.
The England captain Joe Root chipped in with 61 but threw his wicket away before lunch when he holed out at deep square leg but it mattered little as the tourists turned the tables and all but ended Australia's hopes of a series sweep.
The Australians struggled in the absence of key strike bowler Mitch Starc, who was ruled out of the match with a foot injury. His replacement Bird failed to take wicket while pacemen Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins and spinner Nathan Lyon captured three wickets each after toiling hard.