Anderson and Woakes make inroads after Cook’s 244*

Lunch Australia 327 and 2 for 70 (Warner 28*, Smith 4*) trail England 491 (Cook 244*, Root 61, Broad 56, Cummins 4-117) by 94 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Alastair Cook became the highest scorer ever to carry his bat in Test cricket before England further strengthened their position by claiming two wickets before lunch on the fourth day at the MCG. At the break, Australia were 2 for 70 in their second innings, still trailing by 94, with their captain and vice-captain at the crease: David Warner was on 28 and Steven Smith had 4.

It left England in a strong position to push for their first victory of the series, though a consolation one with the Ashes already in Australian hands. England had started the morning on 9 for 491 and it took only one delivery – a short ball from Pat Cummins that James Anderson fended to short leg – to end the innings.

However, that left Cook unbeaten on 244, the highest score ever made by a batsman carrying his bat through a Test innings, beating the 223 scored by New Zealand’s Glenn Turner against West Indies in Kingston in 1972. Cook was also the first England batsman to carry his bat in a Test in 20 years, since Mike Atherton did so against New Zealand in Christchurch in 1997.

It also gave England a 164-run first-innings lead, which meant plenty of work for the Australians to fight back into the contest. They began their second innings solidly with a 51-run opening stand between Cameron Bancroft and Warner, but that ended when Bancroft, who had just driven a handsome boundary wide of mid-on, chopped on for 27 off the bowling of Chris Woakes.

The loss of Usman Khawaja for 11, when he edged behind off an Anderson delivery that nipped away, left Australia wobbling at 2 for 65. The importance of Smith to Australia’s hopes in any match cannot be underestimated, and the push for his wicket could be the key for England as they aim to make the series scoreline 3-1 heading to the SCG.

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