England opener Alastair Cook admits he was gripped by self-doubt before shattering records with an unbeaten double-century on day three of the fourth Ashes Test.
Cook, who was dropped on 66 and 153 by Steve Smith, brought up his fifth double ton in Thursday's final session with a sweetly-timed straight drive off Jackson Bird.
He was 244 not out at stumps, having exceeded his best return against Australia and surpassing Vic Richards for the highest Test score by a visiting batsman at the MCG.
In doing so, Cook overtook Brian Lara to become the sixth-highest scorer in Test cricket with 11,956 runs.
So often a workmanlike batsman, Cook joked that he felt sorry the elegant West Indian had to endure such indignity.
But the former skipper was in expansive touch in Melbourne, later admitting he felt he had nothing to lose after starting the series in such poor form.
As Australia claimed an unassailable 3-0 series lead in Perth, Cook had scored just 83 runs at 13.83.
The 33-year-old said he never considered retiring but admitted the selectors would have been entitled to drop him.
"I've doubted myself for 12 years and I'll probably continue to doubt myself," he said.
"Obviously the longer it goes, the harder it becomes.
"I suppose that's why I've been quite proud ... going to the well again and delivering a performance like that was pleasing.
"It's just a shame it's three-and-a-half, four weeks too late but I'll have to live with that for a long time."
With Jimmy Anderson yet to score, Cook is poised to become the first batsman to carry his bat through a completed innings at the MCG.
His innings has given England hope of avoiding a whitewash, having reached 9-491 at stumps to lead by 164 runs.
"I quite enjoyed listening to the Barmy Army singing their songs in the last session," Cook said.
"It's one of those things you get a few times in your career. You get into that bit of rhythm where time kind of just flies by.
"This tour, batting for half an hour has felt like two hours.
"But for some reason, whatever reason, the last 10 hours have gone quickly."