Bird has a bat, Hussey has a bowl
Jackson Bird walked to the crease at the fall of Australia's ninth wicket without a Test run to his name. He had faced 11 balls in Melbourne and given the general impression that batting was something far more foreign to him than landing the new ball with precision. Here he had the task of shepherding Matthew Wade to his second Test century, while also making a run or two of his own. He punched Rangana Herath for two past cover to make a start, but it was a handsome flick to midwicket for a boundary from Nuwan Pradeep that Bird will remember most fondly. His Test average is now 6.00 and climbing.
Racing from 70 to 97 in Bird's company, Wade reached his century with a delectable drive/glide behind point that was so well timed that neither deep fielder roaming the offside fence had any chance of stopping it. The quality of the stroke was matched by the exuberance of the celebration, as Wade galloped out in the direction of the Australian dressing room and leapt while wielding his bat. It recalled his excitement upon making his first Test century, on the other side of the world against West Indies in Dominica. Then as now, he had rescued a faltering innings on a spinning pitch.
Michael Clarke has shown a knack for choosing to declare before most are expecting him to, and he was to do so again here, picking a moment when Sri Lankan heads were bowed. Two balls after passing three figures, Wade hooked Suranga Lakmal down to fine leg, where a swirling chance went down, much to the mirth of the crowd. Clarke had not closed the innings the moment Wade reached his century, which would have been the more conventional move, but by waiting another couple of balls he showed a knack for making moves psychological as well as tactical.
The people power
Sydney's admiration for Michael Hussey has been clear throughout his match, and after the deflating end to his innings on day two, the SCG crowd was waiting for a moment in which to cheer the popular retiree. Chants for Hussey to bowl began early in Sri Lanka's innings, and he was to draw a mighty roar from the spectators when he held on to a tricky, floating catch after Thilan Samaraweera slogged bizarrely at Nathan Lyon. Eventually, in the day's final over, Clarke responded to the wishes of those in attendance by handing him the ball. Dinesh Chandimal was in no mood to be charitable, arrowing the first delivery of the over to the cover boundary. Aleem Dar was caught up in the theatre himself, calling for a replay of a highly optimistic legside stumping shout, and Rangana Herath flicked the last ball of the day for a couple of runs. Not that it mattered to the crowd, who lauded Hussey as though he had taken a hat-trick.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here