It was the sort of ending that most sportstars dream of, but are often cruelly denied. At the crease when the winning runs in the third and final Test between Australia and Sri Lanka were hit in Sydney, Michael Hussey received a standing ovation.
He was unbeaten on 27 when Mitchell Johnson sealed the five-wicket win that handed Australia a 3-0 clean sweep allowing the crowd to rise as one and bid one of their most faithful servants farewell.
The emotional outpouring for Hussey's retirement was also mixed with some relief as Australia were made to work harder than expected for their victory.
First, Dinesh Chandimal showed why he is so highly rated back home with a gutsy unbeaten 62 that hauled Sri Lanka up to 278 before they were bowled out, setting Australia 141 to win.
Then, Australia slipped to 45 for two and even at 108 for four, Sri Lanka weren't out of it but the presence of Hussey, Australia's finisher par excellence, doubtless calmed the nerves, and after Matthew Wade fell cheaply, there were to be no further wobbles.
Sri Lanka began the day positively, knowing they had to build their lead and give themselves some sort of a chance and Chandimal led the way with his 75-ball half-century.
In all, he faced 106 balls and hit 11 fours and was well supported by Rangana Herath (10) and finally Nuwan Pradeep, who dug in to make nine in 24 balls with a couple of boundaries for good measure.
Suranga Lakmal failed to score as Jackson Bird and Johnson both returned three wickets with Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon taking one apiece.
So to the run chase and almost immediately Australia were in trouble. David Warner was caught by Mahela Jayawardene off Lakmal without scoring but the score was moved on swiftly by Phillip Hughes, who scored the bulk of the runs in a partnership worth 45 with Ed Cowan.
He fell to Herath having made 34 and the scoreboard continued to tick over, albeit not as quickly as Cowan (36) and Michael Clarke (29) joined forces to take Australia past the 100-run mark and close to victory.
After Clarke was dismissed by Dilshan, Cowan was trapped in front by Herath and that was Hussey's cue to march to the middle and see the game to its conclusion.
Wade was bowled by Herath, who finished with figures of three for 46 - not bad for a man who, according to rumours swirling around Twitter after day two, had died in a car crash - but even he was not able to stop Australia's inevitable victory.
Hussey's 27 occupied 42 balls and included two fours while the winning run was the only one Johnson scored and even that final play showed why Hussey is held in such high esteem - rather than trying to claim the glory himself by hitting Herath for four, he took the single to level the scores instead.
Australia will miss him greatly and now begin a new era minus Hussey and Ricky Ponting. Sri Lanka will go through a similar process before too long when Kumar Sangakkara, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene step aside. How they - or any player, in fact - would love to 'do a Hussey'.
© Cricket World 2013
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