England have renewed confidence of successful Ashes

England will head for Adelaide tomorrow still convinced they can win the Ashes after Alastair Cook led their second-innings escape from the Gabba.

Cook was the cornerstone in record stands of 188 with his captain and fellow opener Andrew Strauss and then an all-comers' best against Australia down under of 329 with Jonathan Trott for the second wicket.

He finished unbeaten on 235 - his first double-hundred in first-class or Test cricket - alongside Trott (135no), as England declared on an astonishing 517 for one.

After Strauss' 110, this was the first instance since 1924 of England's top three batsmen each making centuries.

The circumstances of the feat made it all the more notable, after England had begun their second innings needing 221 runs simply to make their hosts bat again in the first Ashes Test.

Few made much of their prospects of rescuing a stalemate at that point, even on an ever-improving pitch.

They had reckoned without Cook in particular, though.

By the time Strauss called time on his deputy - after 10 and a half hours, 428 balls faced and 26 fours struck - England had the luxury of inviting their hosts to bat again.

With no realistic prospect of chasing a notional 297 to win in 41 overs, it was at least a successful exercise in damage limitation for Australia that captain Ricky Ponting could bag an unbeaten 51 out of 107 for one.

Yet that was hardly the endgame he was anticipating after Brad Haddin and Michael Hussey had shared their own triple-century stand two days ago.

Instead, it was Strauss who could reflect with great satisfaction on the eventual outcome - and continued optimism for what still lies ahead this winter.

"Everyone talks about how important the first Test is against Australia in Brisbane, so to get through that unscathed from the position we were in is a great effort," he said.

"We've got a lot of belief we can go on and win the series from here."

He knows that plenty more will be needed to retain the urn.

"We'll have a spring in our step going to Adelaide - but we have to transfer that to the pitch.

"It's all very well strutting about in the hotel lobby feeling good about yourself. You need to make sure that turns into runs and wickets."

There was nonetheless much to cheer the vocal English support, especially on the final two days, in Brisbane.

"We did some very good things with the ball - some of our bowlers weren't rewarded for quite how well they bowled," Strauss added.

"We were in a pretty dire position after day three, so it speaks volumes for the characters of Cooky and Trotty."

Strauss saw positive signs in the first innings too.

"The first day of an Ashes series is hard work mentally, and we did well to come back from losing a wicket in the first over.

"Ian Bell played exceptionally well; Cooky played well. But (Peter) Siddle knocked the stuffing out of us with his hat-trick."

Cook's best was therefore required, and he delivered in spades.

"I'm not great on cricketing history, but you'd be hard pressed to think of a better innings in Australia," said his captain.

"It must be a long time ago that a player batted as well as Cooky did. The concentration to see it through for such a long time ... it's one of the really special innings from an England player."

Cook knew he had done himself and his country proud, but appeared largely oblivious of the history made.

"We didn't know about the records, so Trotty and I might have to start digging to see what we have achieved," he said.

"It's been a fantastic couple of days. The pitch was amazing to bat on and got better and better, but you still have to go and get them.

"It's my first (double-hundred) in first-class cricket. I had a lot of texts last night saying make it 'daddy' hundred. That's pretty much a 'daddy' hundred."

He got his eye in with a first-innings half-century.

"Getting through the first couple of hours gave me a lot of confidence, but I was very disappointed after getting out for 67.

"It was very frustrating, and I was ultra-determined to make it count if I got in again. Luckily I did."

Cook had only minor moments of fortune - at least until he had already made 209, when Ponting claimed a low catch at midwicket only for the officials to call on a ruling from the third umpire.

Two-dimensional technology unsurprisingly then reprieved the batsman.

"You're entitled to stand your ground and wait for the decision," he said.

"I wasn't sure it carried - and I don't think Ricky was totally sure either. I was going to wait."

Ponting saw things differently, but was hardly going to fuel a controversy which came when the match had long gone from Australia.

"As soon as they refer it you know what the end result is going to be," he said.

"I do get a little bit annoyed with it, because I think it is a blight on the game that we are trusting in technology that is not good enough.

"But it was one little thing in the game that had no impact on the outcome."

The damage, by then, had been done by Cook and Co.

"500 for one is a pretty demeaning scorecard, isn't it?" added Ponting, whose squad for the second Test has been bolstered by fast bowlers Ryan Harris and Doug Bollinger.

"I felt I exhausted every option. If we get a flat wicket again in Adelaide we have to make sure we are a whole lot better."

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