Michael Hussey ended his test career on a high when Australia beat Sri Lanka by five wickets with a day to spare in the third test on Sunday to sweep the series 3-0.
The 37-year-old was deprived of the fairytale ending when his batting partner Mitchell Johnson scored the winning runs but Hussey, ever the team man, was not remotely concerned.
“What a place to finish,” he said after being applauded off the pitch by both teams.
“I couldn’t be happier. It was nice to be out there in the end. This has to be one of my top three favourite grounds in the world.”
Australia, chasing 141 runs for a series sweep, lost three wickets in quick succession just before the break to bring Hussey out for his final test innings before retirement.
The break came with the hosts just five runs shy of victory and when Johnson pushed the ball wide of point for his only run Hussey (27) was already halfway down the pitch to secure the winning run.
Australia had dismissed the tourists for 278 before lunch to set up the run chase but they inched nervously rather than romped towards the target after David Warner had departed for a duck without a run on the board.
Seamer Suranga Lakmal had the opener caught in the slips by his captain Mahela Jayawardene but it was the spin-bowling of Tillakaratne Dilshan and particularly Rangana Herath that was always going to provide most problems on a turning wicket.
The peace of a hot, sunny afternoon at the Sydney Cricket Ground was punctuated by the loud appeals of the Sri Lankans pretty much any time the ball came near a batsman’s front pad.
Jayawardene, so profligate with his appeals to the TV umpire in this series, made the most of his first of the innings to remove Hughes for 34 with Australia still 96 runs short of their target.
There was some confusion as to whether the Sri Lankans were appealing for a catch or lbw off the Herath delivery.
The TV pictures showed no nick or glove but did reveal that the ball would have hit the stumps so Hughes was despatched to the dressing room.
Clarke, the most prolific test batsmen of last year, came to the crease for another duel with Herath, who took more test wickets than any other bowler in 2012.
In the end though, it was the spin of Dilshan which removed the Australia skipper for 29 but Ed Cowan (36) and Wade (9) did fall victim to Herath.
With game moving at a snail’s pace, the crowd had already started chanting Hussey’s name before Clarke’s dismissal in the hope he would get out to bat in his final test.
Sri Lanka had resumed on 225-7 looking to bulk up their lead of 87 and give their bowlers something to work with.
Dinesh Chandimal hit a defiant 62 not out off 106 balls but ran out of partners when Jackson Bird had Nuwan Pradeep caught behind for nine half an hour before lunch.
Chandimal and Pradeep put on 41 for the final wicket after Herath (10) and Lakmal (0) had departed relatively cheaply.
Australia won the first test in Hobart by 137 runs and the second by an innings and 201 runs inside three days in Melbourne last week.