'After all the dark times last summer, you have to enjoy moments like today,' says Cook

An England cricketer scored his maiden Ashes hundred yesterday. It was some story and the innings was frequently magisterial. But Ian Bell was eclipsed by the man with whom he shared a significant partnership of 154 for the sixth wicket, which might finally have seen Australia off.

Alastair Cook's career has turned from nightmare to the stuff dreams are made on. He scored 189 yesterday to take his aggregate for this series to 766. Only one Englishman, Wally Hammond who scored 905 runs in 1928-29, also against Australia, has compiled more runs in a single series, and none has spent as much time at the crease.

By the time he was eventually out yesterday, caught at gulley by Mike Hussey, the left-handed openers had batted for 36 hours and 11 minutes in this series, longer than the measly 34 hours and seven minutes which John Edrich managed in the 1970-71 series against Australia (and he had six matches).

It has all been testimony to Cook's stamina, temperament and doggedness. Last summer he could hardly buy a run and when England began on this expedition his support was thin, and thinner still after two failures in the first tour match in Perth.

"Form comes and goes," he said after his latest epic yesterday, his third hundred of this series, his fourth of the winter. "I couldn't hit the middle of the bat six months ago. I don't quite know why. It's the secret of sport, isn't it; why form comes and goes, and so quickly as well. There were some pretty dark times last summer and I'm sure there will be in my career at some other time but you have to enjoy moments like today."

Cook barely made a false stroke in his long occupation in which he had shared important stands, first with Andrew Strauss which set England off to the flier they craved, and then with Bell who after 31 innings against the oldest enemy at last made a century. It was not quite effortless and if you had to choose somebody to watch batting for more than 30 hours, Cook would probably not be top of the list. But his attributes are enviable.

"You work hard physically, you work hard on the mental side of the game but when you're in this form it all happens quite easily," he said. "You bat for an hour and you don't realise it. Last summer, when I was desperately trying to bat for 10 minutes, it felt like a lifetime.

"You get in that rhythm, that tempo and you just try to think, 'Don't make mistakes'. And because you're not worried about your technique it makes it easier. You get a bit tired physically but you would rather be a little bit tired and score a hundred."

Last summer's demons were initially swept away by a fighting century against Pakistan at The Oval. But they were only lurking round the corner and when Cook failed against Western Australia in Perth in early November they showed their ugly little faces again.

"I had a tough summer, which has been well documented and you always want to start a tour well," said Cook. "Not scoring runs in that game made it important in that second tour game at Adelaide. When I scored that hundred in that second innings I just thought, 'Well, I can score runs in Australia'. It was that little bit of confidence you always need. My game plan does work if I execute it well and it has served me well this trip."

There is still work to do to secure the series, as he admitted. But he allowed himself one glimmer of what the immediate future might bring. "When I get home in a week's time and I'm on the farm walking the dog, then I might think, 'Well, you've achieved something special'," he said. And so he has.

Cook's record series

2,171 minutes that Alastair Cook has batted at the crease in this Ashes series, the longest by an Englishman in a Test series.

766 Cook's runs in the 2010-11 Ashes, the second highest total by an English batsman in a series – but his average of 127.66 is the highest.

1,438 Cook has faced the most balls in the series, over 400 more than Australia's Mike Hussey.

81 The number of fours Cook has hit so far in seven innings in the series, plus one six.

800 Only seven batsmen have hit over 800 runs in a Test series, Cook needs just 34 more to join the list.

26.21 Cook's woeful average against Australia in 10 Tests before the start of the current series.

Most runs in a series from an English batsman:

Mat/Runs (av.)/HS

1. W Hammond 5 /905 (113.12)/251 (The Ashes in Australia 1928-29)

2. A Cook 5*/766 (127.66)/235* (The Ashes in Australia 2010-11)

3. D Compton 5/753 (94.12)/208 (South Africa in England 1947)

4. G Gooch/3/752 (125.33)/333 (India in England 1990)

5. H Sutcliffe 5/734 (81.55)/176 (The Ashes in Australia 1924-25)

6. D Gower 6/732 (81.33)/215 (The Ashes in England 1985)

News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Bruce, left, with Cream bandmates Ginger Rogers, centre, and Eric Clapton in 1967
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker