Shamik Das

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Cook's brilliance undone by McGrath's late burst

Arms aloft, Alastair Cook celebrates his magnificent century

Perth, Third Test, Fourth Day: England 215 & 265/5 (Cook 116, Bell 87, Pietersen 37*; McGrath 2-50) v
Australia 244 & 527/5 dec.

Alastair Cook scored a magnificent century - his first against Australia - to give England hope on the penultimate day's play at the WACA.

But Cook's dismissal three overs from the end signalled the beginning of the end as Glen McGrath showed once more why he's still a force to be reckoned with, teasing an edge out of Cook and yorking nightwatchman Matthew Hoggard just minutes later.

Glenn McGrath strikes late on  First up, Alastair Cook gets caught behind  Two balls later, Matthew Hoggard's off stump goes cartwheeling out of the ground

Cook's fourth Test century - the most ever for England by someone so young - took six and a half hours and 290 balls to compile, and was exactly what was required in the circumstances.

Alastair Cook rolls his wrists for an elegant leg-side boundary    The very model of concentration, Alastair Cook plays a textbook forward defence

Ably assisted by Ian Bell, the pair put on a record second wicket partnership at the WACA of 170 runs before Bell fell just 13 short of a century, undone by a Shane Warne special.

With Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff at the crease, there's just the slimmest of possibilities England will retain the Ashes ...

Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff trudge off the field with their wickets intact

... but with another 292 runs required to win, or more likely a minimum of 540 balls to be negotiated for the draw, the Aussies are seemingly just hours away from getting their grubby mitts back on the urn.

Catch the fourth day's highlights tonight on BBC Two at 11:00, and listen to live coverage of day five on Radio 4 198LW and the BBC Sport website from 2:30am.


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