Justin Langer has surpassed the legendary Sir Donald Bradman and become Australia's leading run-scorer in first-class cricket. Langer achieved the milestone while compiling his second century of the season, and 86th in total, during Somerset's County Championship clash with Worcester at New Road.
"I am very proud," Langer said. "Bradman is obviously in a league of his own but to achieve this, given how many great players are on the list, is very special. It means I have been around a long while, but as John Buchanan always said, you only judge champions on longevity and not on flash-in-the-pan brilliance."
Langer resumed the day on 89 not out, just six runs shy of Bradman's tally of 28,067 runs, which has stood for more than 60 years. He needed 20 minutes and nine deliveries to surpass the mark with a cover-drive off Matt Mason, and his century soon followed in 126 balls, from 165 minutes, before Mason dismissed him for 107.
As Australia's young opener, Phillip Hughes, struggles to make an impact in this summer's Ashes, Langer's achievement serves as a reminder of the class and experience that Australia have lost in recent seasons. He retired from Test cricket at the end of the Sydney Test in 2006-07, after helping to wrap up an Ashes whitewash, while he was Australia's stand-out batsman in the 2005 series as well, top-scoring with 394 runs at 43.77 in five Tests.
Although Bradman reached his mark in almost half the number of innings - 338 to 615 - Langer's achievement is nevertheless testament to his remarkable durability. He made his first-class debut for Western Australia as a 21-year-old in 1991-92, and played the first of his 105 Tests against West Indies the following season, when he recovered from a withering blow to the helmet from Ian Bishop to make 54 in a gripping one-run defeat.
He played just eight Tests in the next six years, but having reinvented himself as an opening batsman at the end of the 2001 Ashes, he went to forge a formidable partnership with Matthew Hayden - with his pugnacious scrapping style the perfect counterpoint to Hayden's more aggressive, domineering approach.
Hayden paid tribute to his long-time former Test opening partner. "It is very fitting that a man of Justin's calibre takes this honour because when you break a record of one of the greatest individuals, that being Sir Donald Bradman, it has to be by a person of quality," Hayden told AAP.
"He epitomises class, perseverance and persistence and the quality and culture of the baggy green and his work ethic is second to none. I'm very, very proud of Justin because these results are not a fluke. These qualities were the glue to our partnership."