A Michael Clarke century has guided Australia to an impregnable position after the second day of the Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka at the MCG.
The Australian captain put the finishing touches on a watershed 2012 by posting his fifth ton of the year.
In the process Clarke (1595) eclipsed Ricky Ponting’s Australian record of 1544 for the most runs in a calendar year, honing in on the 1600 barrier before edging to the cordon after reaching 106.
Clarke’s imperious knock has all but assured Australia of victory in the Test match, partnering Shane Watson (83) to a 194-run third wicket stand.
The star all-rounder had a century of his own in his sights before holing out in the deep to a short ball before Matthew Wade followed in similar fashion for one.
Mike Hussey plundered 34 before he too fell in the deep, but day one hero Mitchell Johnson responded with an unbeaten 73 to guide the hosts to 8-440- a first-innings lead of 284.
“It’s nice to get that monkey off my back, to get my first hundred here,” Clarke said.
“I’ve always loved playing cricket at the MCG.
“In regards to beating Ricky, in my eyes he’s certainly the greatest batsmen I was lucky enough to play with.
“To beat any record that Ricky holds is very special.”
Having entered the Boxing Day Test under an injury cloud, Clarke said he came through his time in the middle unscathed, but Watson has suffered a reoccurrence to his calf injury and is in doubt for Syndey.
“I was pretty lucky batting with ‘Watto’. We were both pretty slow out there,” Clarke said.
“Numbers have never really bothered me too much. It’s nice to be making runs and leading by example.
“But to me, it’s about winning games.
“In regards to my form, it’s about enjoying this time and make the most of it because there’s going to come a time where I’m going to nick the first few and have a couple of ducks beside my name.”