Centurion Cook, Broad defy critics as England hit back
MELBOURNE, Dec 27, 2017 (AFP) – Alastair Cook hit a long-awaited century and Stuart Broad snapped up four wickets as England’s much-maligned old guard finally enjoyed a day to remember in the Ashes series on Wednesday.
At 3-0 down after three Tests, the Ashes urn is already lost to Australia but Cook and Broad showed their careers are not over yet after critics had questioned their place in the England team.
In scorching heat in Melbourne, England bowled out the Australians for 327, with 113-Test paceman Broad capturing four wickets for 51 runs in his best bowling performance in more than a year.
Cook then ended a 10-innings stretch without a half-century, the longest drought of his 151-Test career, to claim his 32nd Test ton.
At the close, England were 192 for two and trailing by 135 runs with Cook, playing in an English-record 34th consecutive Ashes Test, unbeaten on 104 and skipper Joe Root providing support on 49 in a 112-run partnership.
Cook had a huge and symbolic let-off on 66 when rival skipper Steve Smith put down a two-handed chance after a couple of grabs at the ball in the slips off Mitchell Marsh.
But apart from the drop, it was more like the former captain’s signature batting after just 83 runs in his previous six innings of the series.
The Australians claimed two wickets with Josh Hazlewood trapping James Vince leg before wicket for 17 and Mark Stoneman out to a blinding one-handed return catch by spinner Nathan Lyon for 15.
Australia, already without the injured Mitchell Starc, had enforcer Pat Cummins on and off the field with a stomach complaint and down on pace and trademark bounce.
– Smith vigil ends –
England earlier ended Steve Smith’s incredible three-year unbeaten run in Melbourne as they bowled out the hosts for 327 just after lunch, claiming the last seven wickets for 67 runs.
Debutant Tom Curran celebrated his first Test wicket as Smith chopped a short, wide delivery on to his stumps on 76, early on the second day.
Smith had not been dismissed in a Melbourne Test match since Boxing Day 2014, and was on track for his third century of the series on a bat-friendly MCG pitch.
In the last three Boxing Day Tests, Smith scored 192 against India, 134 not out against the West Indies and an unbeaten 165 last year against Pakistan.