SYDNEY (AP) — Mike Hussey helped Australia to a five-wicket win and 3-0 series sweep over Sri Lanka on Sunday, ending his international career in typically understated fashion.
The 37-year-old Hussey steered Australia through a tricky second-innings spell when a flurry of wickets threatened to derail it but, with the crowd baying for him to hit the winning runs, he let someone else do the honors.
Mitchell Johnson hit the winning single at the Sydney Cricket Ground for his only run to take Australia to 141-5 and victory, leaving Hussey smiling at the other end on 27 not out.
"I was telling Mitch the over before, 'if it comes up that you hit it, then I'm more than happy to let us get this over and done with," Hussey said. "I was hoping that we could make the runs none down but I was more than happy to be out there when the winning run was hit. A dream come true.
"The important thing was making sure we won the test match."
Sri Lanka spinners Rangana Herath and Tillakaratne Dilshan made Australia work hard to reach the small victory target, taking regular wickets, but the outcome was never in doubt.
With two runs needed, 'Mr Cricket', as Hussey is nicknamed for his dedication, ran a single to leave the crowd cheering every block and dot ball from Johnson until the paceman could no longer resist temptation and knocked off the winning single.
"The crowd support and the support in general has been a bit overwhelming and I've been a bit embarrassed by it," said Hussey, who played 79 tests for Australia. "In a way I'm quite relieved that it's over now. The stress and pressure, I can relax away from it now. I don't have that sick feeling in my stomach before I go out to bat.
"I feel like the pressure is off and I feel very proud to be able to finish in Australia and here at the SCG."
Sri Lanka still has not won a test in Australia in 14 attempts and was left to rue its lack of runs in both innings. Only three batsmen scored more than 25 in the first innings and the loss of four middle-order wickets for just 24 runs stunted the second innings.
"When you are competing at this level, we need to be much better prepared and show more character to win test matches in these conditions," Sri Lanka captain Mahele Jayawardene said.
The Australian summer now switches to limited-overs games, with the West Indies joining Sri Lanka on the tour.
Having been competitive but ultimately unsuccessful against No.1-ranked South Africa, and now whitewashing Sri Lanka, Australia is eyeing off the upcoming challenges of a tour of India before back-to-back Ashes series against England.
"What you've seen of the Australian cricket team this summer probably sums up where we're at," captain Michael Clarke said. "We're fighting to get better every day, that's the positive. We are improving slowly as a group but we know the next 12 months is huge for us."
Dinesh Chandimal's intelligent half-century helped Sri Lanka from an overnight 225-7 to 278 all out in Sunday's morning session and things looked a little tricky for Australia when opener David Warner followed his first-innings 85 by edging Suranga Lakmal to second slip for a golden duck.
But the other top-order batsman made handy contributions. Ed Cowan added a composed 88-ball 36, Phil Hughes was trapped lbw by Herath for 34 and Clarke, who survived an lbw review on 13, was caught by Lahiru Thirimanne off Dilshan for 29.
Herath, who finished with 3-47 and 12 wickets for the series, dismissed Cowan to bring Hussey to the crease. Run out by his captain in the first innings and dropped from the one-day squad announced Sunday morning, Hussey grasped the opportunity to go out on a high.
A smart reverse sweep to the boundary elicited huge cheers from the modest 10,505 crowd on hand to watch Sunday's coup de grace, and, after going into tea just five runs short of victory, Australia needed just 11 balls of the final session to reach its target.