Australia v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Sydney, 3rd day January 5, 2012

Bird has a bat, Hussey has a bowl

Plays of the Day from the third day of the third Test between Australia and Sri Lanka in Sydney

The boundary

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.

The celebration

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.

The declaration

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on January 5, 2013, 17:03 GMT

    Hussey should play on, if only to be Australia's spin option in India. Lyon is really just a seamer too, like Hussey. Maybe this is the answer Australia have been looking for all along to their spin problem.

  • Black-Zero on January 5, 2013, 14:43 GMT

    Clarke should let Hussy open the innings.remember, he started as an opener.

  • N.Sundararajan on January 5, 2013, 10:26 GMT

    N. Sundararajan from Chennai Mike Hussey played the game with dignity-0--not allowing any controversy or unpleasantness about him. and he WAS a good cricketer too ! He deserved his farewell--a wonderful gesture by Mahela Jayawardane--normally reserved for much bigger and greater players ! Again in excellent spirit of the game. It is such events that make the game worthwhile watching, despite all the increasingly negative things happening !

  • baseball_sucks on January 5, 2013, 10:07 GMT

    The least Clarke could do after running Hussey out in the first innings is let him have a bat in the second...

  • DineshKanwar on January 5, 2013, 7:59 GMT

    Dear Hussey, I wish you best for post retirement life and giving us most enjoyable moments of life. I know you would like to spare some time with family but in future if you feel like getting bore would you like to coach some real talented but hugely problematic in attitude & temperament. I am sure pay would be pretty good too. Thanks & Regards- A terribly dejected Indian fan.

  • dummy4fb on January 5, 2013, 7:44 GMT

    I hope hussey gets a bat on the 4th day and he hits the winning run. maybe Clarke should promote him to no.3 or even let him open if the target is less than 100