Cook props up England with draining knock

Up until he fell an agonising four runs short of a fifth Lord’s Test century, Alastair Cook had spent all but one over on the hallowed turf, desperately trying to halt an Australian team determined to level the Ashes series.

During five sessions in the field, watching the tourists amass 8(dec)-566, Cook was off the field briefly, substitute fielder Jordan Price taking his spot while the skipper relieved himself in the dressing room.

There was no respite once England were finally given the opportunity to bat – Cook took up his role of opener and settled in.

He delivered his best Ashes knock since scoring 189 at the SCG in 2011, a period which has spanned 23 innings.

On that tour, Cook led all runscorers with 766 and was named man of the series as England took the series 3-1 on Australian soil.

At 3.17pm local time on Saturday, after nearly six hours at the crease, he was trudging off on 96 – having fallen just shy of getting his name on the Lord’s honour board for a fifth time.

Having spent near on three days running around Lord’s in a seemingly futile effort to stop the Australian onslaught, Cook fell to one knee after being bowled by rising allrounder Mitch Marsh.

It was the seventh time the 30-year-old had been dismissed in the 90s, the most for any English batsman.

Exhausted, he returned to his feet and left the field for a well-earned rest in the hope that his stoic knock might inspire his teammates.

It failed to.

The final three wickets fell for 46 runs as England gave up a 254-run first innings lead.

“We felt good at the crease and felt the partnership was going to go on further,” said teammate Ben Stokes, who added 145 for the fifth wicket alongside Cook.

“Unfortunately it ended and we couldn’t really get any other big partnerships going.”

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