Hayden leaves Lara in his wake
Close, 2nd day Australia 735 for 6 dec (Hayden 380, Gilchrist 113*, Ervine 4-146) lead Zimbabwe 79 for 1 (Gripper 37*) by 656 runs
Matthew Hayden: in a class of his own © Getty
Matthew Hayden once said the stimulation he received from hitting a cricket ball - and hitting it well - would never wane. Zimbabwe found that out the hard way today as Hayden put every other Test match batting record in the shade en route to an unforgettable 380. The day revolved around his remarkable achievement to such an extent that it was almost forgotten that Australia amassed 735 for 6, the highest total in 126 years of cricket on Australian soil, before taking pity on Zimbabwe's bowlers.
To their credit, Zimbabwe made a brave fist of it in the final session, reaching 61 before Jason Gillespie blasted a ball through Dion Ebrahim's defence to bowl him for 29. By stumps, there were 79 for one wicket, still a small ocean short of the 536 needed to avoid the follow-on.
But whatever be your perspective, this was Hayden's day, as he once again revealed the hunger of the late starter. Not only did he surpass the 375 scored by Brian Lara against England at Antigua in 1993-94, but he became only the second Australian to score a triple century on home soil - something beyond even a certain Donald George Bradman. His energy levels never ebbed, and 400 was a distinct possibility - especially after Steve Waugh decided to let the batsmen come back out after tea - when he pulled a ball from Trevor Gripper to backward square leg, where Stuart Carlisle took a low tumbling catch.
The record was just reward for a batsman who has been the outstanding performer of the 21st century, and with four Tests still to play in the calendar year, Hayden finds himself well within reach of 1000 runs - he has 837 after this epic - in a year for the third successive time.
Matthew Hayden walks off after his record-breaking innings © Getty
Hayden's inexorable progress past successive milestones meant that Adam Gilchrist's truly remarkable cameo - if you can call a century that - was relegated to the shade. He finished with 113 not out - his ninth Test century - perhaps the only time in the history of the game that an 84-ball hundred has had to play second fiddle. Gilchrist did manage some crumbs of comfort from the record-breaking table, as both batsmen made over a hundred runs between lunch and tea.
Hayden, who had also scored a century between tea and stumps yesterday, joined Walter Hammond - who achieved the feat against New Zealand at Auckland in 1932-33 - as the only man to do that twice in the same innings.
Sean Ervine may have achieved his career-best figures with four wickets, but they came at a cost of 146 runs. Gripper, who dropped Hayden at midwicket, when he offered his only chance at 335, finished with 2 for 142, as five bowlers went for over 100 runs.
The only thing that Zimbabwe managed to do right was to deny Steve Waugh the unique honour of having scored a hundred at each of Australia's contemporary Test grounds. Waugh had been untroubled on his way to 78, but Sean Ervine got one to catch the inside edge and rebound high into the air off the pad, following up well enough to snaffle a difficult chance.
The rest of the day was all about one man's tryst with history. Hayden has often professed to a fondness for fly-fishing, and today, the bait he used snared the biggest fish of them all. Goodbye Brian Lara, hello Matthew Hayden - king of the batting mountain.