Darren Lehmann paid a gracious tribute to double-centurion Alastair Cook and acknowledged victory in the fourth Ashes Test is now likely to be beyond Australia after England carved out a substantial first-innings lead on day three in Melbourne.
Cook progressed from 104 to 244 not out on Thursday, the highest score by a visiting batsman at the MCG, and shared exactly 100 for the ninth wicket with Stuart Broad (56) as the tourist reached 491-9 to move ahead by 164.
Australia is 3-0 up in the series and has already regained the urn, but the odds on Steve Smith's men completing a whitewash have now lengthened significantly as a result of Cook's magnificent performance.
A fantastic achievement
In an interview with ABC Grandstand , Australia coach Lehmann hailed the veteran opener for bouncing back from a dismal run of form that had seen him go 10 innings without a fifty and make just 83 runs across the first three Ashes Tests.
"It's a fantastic achievement," said Lehmann. "He played bloody well the whole day, didn't he?
"We had a couple of opportunities [Smith dropped Cook on 66 and 153], but outside of that it was just very good Test match batting. He's been under some pressure in the first three Test matches, but he's certainly responded really well today and yesterday.
"We were probably 100-150 runs short in the first innings and they [England] certainly showed the application required to bat long periods of time on this wicket.
"The way he [Cook] played - and the concentration - is why he's got almost 12,000 Test runs. He's been a magnificent player for England."
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