Lehmann urges Australia batsmen to follow the example of 'fantastic' Cook
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 tourists reached 491-9 to move ahead by 164.
Australia are 3-0 up in the series and have 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.
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."
Asked if Australia can still win the match, Lehmann laughed as he replied: "We'd have to bowl them out quite cheaply, wouldn't we?
He added: "It's going to take us a long time to get past them, to be perfectly honest.
"Really, our job is to bat a lot of overs and do exactly what they've just done to us. The batters have got to stand up and it's a great challenge for the batting group to do that again. You never say never, do you? But we're a long way behind the game so it's about batting for as long as we possibly can and see where the game heads from there.
"It's tough to see any other scenarios going on other than a draw or an England win, so we have to make sure we're up and ready to go and play exactly like Alastair Cook did."