Prolific Cook runs amok
Alastair Cook continued his sensational Ashes form with another century as England surged into the lead in the second Test in Adelaide.
For the second time in the series he batted through an entire day, hitting an unbeaten 136 to propel England comfortably beyond Australia’s meagre 245.
The tourists closed the second day on 317 for two, 72 in front and with their prospects of establishing a potentially match-winning advantage growing ever more realistic.
Jonathan Trott contributed 78 to a second-wicket stand of 173 with Cook which could be considered something of a disappointment after they put on an unbroken 329 in Brisbane, and a near faultless day for England was capped by Kevin Pietersen’s serene progress to 85. His partnership with Cook is currently worth 141.
That Trott and Pietersen’s efforts were overshadowed says everything about the quality of Cook’s innings, which was founded on the rocky foundations of England losing captain Andrew Strauss in the first over of the day.
His performance today was immense, not only statistically but also in terms of the psychological effect it had on an increasingly bedraggled Australia attack forced to operated in conditions Cook later described as “ideal” for batting.
A flat pitch and searing heat unquestionably blunted the hosts’ potency, but Cook’s calm authority was reflected in the fact he did not offer a chance in six and half hours and England’s dominance by a run-rate of more than 3.5 an over.
Cook, who made 76 and 235 not out at the Gabba, has now scored a staggering 438 runs in a series that began with his place under threat.
He has also batted for 17 hours and two minutes without being dismissed, beating Nasser Hussain's England record.
While Cook and Trott came together in Brisbane with the scoreboard reading 188 for one - albeit with England still in arrears - their alliance here began after Strauss was bowled shouldering arms to third ball of the day.
The captain was presumably leaving on length when he offered no stroke to Doug Bollinger and had his off bail clipped by a delivery that hardly deviated in line.
Trott was fortunate to survive a run-out chance on six - Xavier Doherty missed with his throw from square-leg after Cook turned down a single - and saw Mike Hussey drop a straightforward chance at gully off Bollinger when he had made 10.
Those errors contrasted starkly with England’s exceptional fielding yesterday, one of many comparisons that Australia would not have appreciated throughout the day.
There was no shortage of authoritative strokes, the majority coming initially from Trott’s bat in the form of trademark whips through the leg side as Australia’s tactic of attacking the stumps backfired.
Growing in adventure, Cook took three fours off Bollinger in the first over after the interval to remind Australia of the task facing them on a day when temperatures approached 40 degrees Celsius.
A miscued pull off Bollinger which looped to a vacant midwicket was the exception rather than the norm for the fluent Trott, who continued to punish anything remotely close to his pads as he followed Cook to 50, off 84 balls to his partner’s 102.
With their lead trimmed to 100, Australia thought they made the breakthrough when Cook was adjudged behind attempting to hook Siddle, only for the batsman’s referral to prove successful after replays showed the ball brushing arm rather than glove.
Brad Haddin, leaping to his left behind the stumps, failed to cling on to a similar chance offered by Trott off Harris, but the batsman failed to add to his score before he whipped the same bowler off his hips to a diving Michael Clarke at short midwicket.
A first setback for 47 overs failed to persuade Cook to alter his approach, and he made plentiful use of the numerous gaps in the field as he moved ruthlessly to three figures.
As usual, the leg side proved a popular scoring area, although the occasional drive through a congested off-side ring served as a reminder that Cook is more than an accumulator.
Pietersen’s panache has never been in doubt, and the manner in which he used his feet to dominate Doherty from the outset masked the fact he had spent much of the day - and the best part of two days in Brisbane - padded up waiting to bat.
Advancing to drive straight and wide of mid-on and mid-off, he spared neither the ineffective Doherty - his 15 fruitless overs cost 70 - nor any of the other bowlers in racing to a 72-ball half-century.
Even three overs with the new ball were not sufficient to stall England, who will head into the third day eager to tighten their grip on a game becoming ever more one-sided.