Alastair Cook rebounded from his recent form slump in spectacular fashion to score an unbeaten century after Stuart Broad produced his best effort with the ball as England enjoyed one of its best days of the Ashes series on Wednesday.

England ripped through Australia's batting lineup, then made a powerful start to its first-innings reply on the second day of the fourth Test.Cook, 104 not out, brought up his hundred in the last over of the day when he smashed Australian captain Steve Smith for four, reaching the milestone off 166 balls after four hours at the crease.

Having already surrendered the Ashes after losing the first three Tests in the five-match series, the tourists turned the pressure back on Australia with both bat and ball on a baking hot day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Australia lost its last seven wickets for just 67 runs to be all out for 327 just after lunch before England made it to stumps on 192-2, still 135 behind.

Australia's bowlers struggled in the absence of injured paceman Mitchell Starc and an out-of-sorts Pat Cummins, who was restricted to just 11 overs because of a stomach bug.

Spinner Nathan Lyon took a diving one-handed catch off his own bowling to remove Mark Stoneman for 15 and Josh Hazlewood trapped Vince James lbw for 17 but was unable to remove Cook or Joe Root, who made 49 not out.

Cook had not made more than 37 in the series and was given a second life on 66 when Smith dropped him at slip, but showed why he is England's leading run scorer as he posted the 32nd century of his long Test career.

Root proved a reliable partner, sharing an unbroken partnership of 112 to and giving Cook the strike in the last over to allow him to get to triple figures.

England's fast bowlers earlier tore through the Australian middle and lower order batting lineup with Broad (4-51), James Anderson (3-61), Chris Woakes (2-72) and debutant Tom Curran (1-65) all taking wickets.

Smith and Shaun Marsh both made half-centuries for Australia after David Warner made a hundred on day one, but no one else made at least 30 and four batsmen were dismissed in single figures.

Curran triggered the Australian collapse when he snared the prized wicket of Smith to belatedly capture his first test victim shortly after the resumption of play.

A jubilant Curran wildly celebrated what he thought was his first wicket on Tuesday's opening day of play when he had Warner caught on 99, but his joy was short-lived when television replays showed he had overstepped the crease and bowled a no-ball.

Given a reprieve, Warner brought up his century off the very next ball to add further insult to Curran's rookie error. But the 22-year-old made amends early on Wednesday morning by removing Smith for 76.

The Australian skipper made an unbeaten hundred in the first Test then a double century in the third match as Australia regained the Ashes with two games to spare.

He seemed to be on his way to another ton when Curran drew him into false shot and he dragged the ball back on to his stumps after sharing a 100-run partnership with Marsh.

Curran, who was awarded his first Test cap when Craig Overton was ruled out of the match with a fractured rib, was mobbed by his teammates who enjoyed one of their best days of an otherwise lopsided series.

Mitch Marsh, who scored a century when he was recalled for the third test in Perth, managed just nine this time before he edged a ball from Woakes on to his stumps. Then his older brother Shaun fell for 61 when he was given out leg before wicket to Broad after the initial appeal was turned down and referred to the video umpire.

Broad also dismissed Jackson Bird and Cummins to complete his best haul of the series. Anderson removed Tim Paine and Lyon to move past West Indian Courtney Walsh into outright fifth place on the all-time Test list with 521 wickets.

AP