Brisbane: England opener Alastair Cook arrived in Perth last month determined to prove he could play in Australia and on Monday he did that by taking a batting record off the great Don Bradman with an unbeaten 235.
The importance of his 10 1/2 hour innings for England was to save a first Ashes test that looked like being lost but for Cook it also helped banish the demons of poor previous displays against Australians – for a few days at least.
The 25-year-old started the series with an average of 26.21 in 10 Ashes tests but blew that paltry record asunder with two days of disciplined cricket.
“To score 200 against Australia in Australia is a great effort,” he said. “When you’re so far behind you have to bat a lot of overs to get back into. It’s been a great couple of days.
“My record in Australia hasn’t been that good. One innings doesn’t change a lot but it’s a start.”
The left-hander was ignoring the 67 he made in the first innings at the Gabba and somewhat underplaying the psychological importance of the innings in the context of what looks like being a tight series.
His captain Strauss was prepared to blow a trumpet for his opening partner, however.
“It was an outstanding performance from Alastair Cook, one of the best centuries I’ve seen from an England player,” said Strauss, who also made a century in a 188-run partnership with Cook on Sunday.
“The situation he came in in,” Strauss added. “The concentration to see it through for such a long time, it was one of the really special innings by an England player.”
Even Australian skipper Ricky Ponting was prepared to pay him a compliment of sorts.
“He is a cool sort of customer, we might have to try and rough him up a bit and get under his skin in Adelaide,” Ponting joked.
“He played very, very well,” he added. “Obviously he’s got his limitations as a player but he stuck to his gameplan very well and stuck to his style and did it for 10 hours and that’s what you want from your openers in test match cricket.”
Cook burst onto the international scene with a century against India on his debut in 2006 but the doubts about his technique have always persisted, particularly when the runs have dried up.
That was the case last year when a lean spell caused his place in the England team to come under threat but his response was an uncharacteristically aggressive century against Pakistan at The Oval.
“It’s cricket innit?” he said. “It’s amazing how it turns around. You keep working at the right things, more importantly you keep believing you’re a good player and you get the results.”
“These days are even more special after the dark days against Pakistan. I got great confidence from my century at The Oval and it’s great to back it up here.
“But we start again very quickly in Adelaide on Friday so hopefully I can change things around again.”
That gives him just a couple of days to contemplate displacing Bradman as the scorer of the highest test innings at the Gabba and becoming only the fourth Englishman to score an Ashes double century in Australia.