Cook shows class is permanent
TWICE Alastair Cook has left Australia without an Ashes win, wiped out 5-0.
But there was a winning series in the middle too, when Cook was unstoppable, and while his MCG century may seem too little too late this time around, it was the mark of a Test champion not willing to give up the fight for his country.
Cook, aided by an all-in effort from veteran quick Stuart Broad, who was a whitewash victim himself in 2013, turned from battlers to beasts and feasted on runs and wickets that had been out of reach through the three Tests so far.
It was the first century against Australia since 2011 for Cook who had only passed 20 once this series before he got to Melbourne. He had never racked up three figures at the MCG either.
But with 11,700 Test runs under his belt, Cook, unflappable making a duck or a double-century, wasn't fretting, and found his way to a century Broad believes could turn "big".
"He's not someone who gets particularly fazed or down. He went through so much with his captaincy I'm not sure a bit of stick about not making runs is going to bother him," Broad said after he finished with 4-51 himself.
"He has these periods where he might not get the runs he wants then he gets a big score. He's someone who doesn't just deal in little hundreds. When he gets them he goes big.
"It shows a huge amount of character to be under that sort of scrutiny and pressure and come out and deliver any sort of performance let alone a hundred like Cooky has just done."
It was Cook's best score since bashing out 243 against the West Indies in August and his first time past 50 since then. He'd averaged just 14.4 in 10 innings since, so the questions about his future could have rightly been considered warranted.
But as he moved past Allan Border on the all-time Test run scoring list, with just seven players, and only one Australian in Ricky Ponting in front of him, Cook answered those questions and then some, much like his veteran bowling teammate.
Broad needed a scan on his injured knee before the third Test in Perth, had fluid drained from it too, and was bowling like a busted man.
It was a delight for Aussie fans that could boo their pantomime villain and even, if only in chats at the bar, push the one time conqueror closer towards retirement.
Pundits, including former English skipper Michael Vaughan wanted him out of the team for Boxing Day because the series was done and it was time for the 31-year-old, a lion-hearted competitor through his 111 Tests, to let the new blood through.
But Broad, who conceded he was "uncompetitive" in Perth made some mental tweaks, and with the backing of the men who knew better, delivered for his team taking four Aussie wickets to remind the home side he wasn't done, and this match wasn't all about their march to another win
"I don't think you play this amount of international sport without some sort of deep, inner self confidence that you can find when you are very low," Broad said.
"You have something there you can clutch on to when things get tough, that hopefully brings you back to performing. I think both of us (with Cook) have put in strong performances over these two days.
"We know that we need three more to win this Test match."