Cook’s unbeaten 244 at the MCG followed six innings totalling 83 runs Down Under as England lost the first three matches and therefore the Ashes before Christmas.
He has returned to form in time at least to end any realistic prospect of a third 5-0 whitewash in England’s last four Ashes tours.
His 10-hour vigil brought him the highest individual score for any overseas batsman at this famous venue, superseding Viv Richards’ 208 in 1984-85, and took him above Brian Lara into sixth in the list of all-time top Test run-scorers.
Stuart Broad (56) helped Cook put on 100 for the ninth wicket as England closed day three on 491-9, with a lead of 164.
It all makes a mockery of the opener’s struggles since his 243 in the day-night Test in Birmingham four months ago.
Asked whether he was worried he could be dropped because of them, he said: “You don’t know, do you? I would have been entitled to be... just because I literally hadn’t scored a run since Edgbaston. It was very frustrating.”
Cook added: “The whole tour I’ve been struggling... and I was a bit embarrassed by my performance, but at least today I’ve gone on and got a big one.
“It’s never going to be pretty, my batting, but sometimes it’s effective.”
Asked if he had doubted himself, he replied: “Yes, 100 per cent. I’ve doubted myself for 12 years – and I’ll probably continue to doubt myself. Obviously the longer it (a bad run) goes, the harder it becomes.
“So I suppose that’s why I’m quite proud... going to the well again and delivering a performance like that. It’s just a shame it’s three-and-a-half to four weeks too late. I’ll have to live with that for a long time.”
The 33-year-old never contemplated calling time on his career, though. “I’ve never thought like that. I’ve always thought about fighting hard.”