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Hayden's mammoth effort beat the previous mark of 375 set by West Indies batsman Lara against England in 1994.
The Queenslander pushed left-arm slow bowler Ray Price for a single to long on in the last over before the tea break to reach 376 before swinging his bat above his head in celebration and raising both hands to the cheers of the crowd.
Hayden then kissed his baggy green cap and was bear-hugged by team-mate Adam Gilchrist.
``I can't quite believe it, to be honest,'' Hayden said.
``I'm just thrilled that I was wearing the baggy green cap when the record was broken.''
The Australian was finally caught at deep square leg by Stuart Carlisle off Trevor Gripper for 380 shortly after tea on the second day.
Australia declared on 735 for six immediately after Hayden's dismissal with Gilchrist unbeaten on 113. Hayden struck 38 fours and 11 sixes from 437 balls in 622 minutes at the crease.
Each member of the Zimbabwe team also congratulated Hayden as he walked from the field at tea on 376 not out.
Australia captain Steve Waugh and his side formed a guard of honour for Hayden who was mobbed by team-mates and fans as he walked up to the changing rooms.
The 31-year-old had resumed on his overnight score of 183 not out after blazing 107 in the evening session yesterday.
Hayden, who has hit six hundreds in his last 12 Tests, had a previous highest score of 203 and possesses an excellent strike-rate of 15 centuries in his 45 Tests.
Hayden took a single to long-off to reach 335, passing the previous Australia record of 334 shared by former captain Mark Taylor and the great Don Bradman.
Dropped at long-on on 335, Hayden then smashed his 10th six as wicketkeeper Gilchrist slipped almost unnoticed into the nineties.
Hayden hit another straight six to advance to 364, equalling the mark of England's Len Hutton against Australia at The Oval in 1938, before a single put him alongside West Indian Garfield Sobers' mark of 365 not out against Pakistan in 1957-58.
Hayden shared partnerships of 97 with Damien Martyn (53), 207 with captain Steve Waugh (78) and 96 with Darren Lehmann (30) plus 233 with Gilchrist.
Gilchrist's hundred, his ninth century in 46 matches, was also a powerful knock but was completely overshadowed by Hayden's heroics.
Gilchrist hit 12 fours and four sixes in 95 balls and Australia scored at better than five runs per over from 146.3 overs.
It's total of 735 was the sixth-highest total in Test cricket.
For Zimbabwe young right-arm paceman Sean Ervine, in his third Test, took 4-146 from 31 overs.
Left-arm spinner Ray Price suffered most with figures of 0-187 from 36 overs.
But the Africans began their reply well as Dion Ebrahim and Trevor Gripper shared an opening stand of 61 in 97 minutes.
Ebrahim was bowled by Jason Gillespie for 29.
Gripper remained 37 not out with Mark Vermeulen on nine.
On 79 for one at the close, Zimbabwe was 656 runs behind Australia's daunting total.
A technical marvel: Brown
Bill Brown, Australia's oldest surviving Test cricketer, said the record-breaking Test score was a ``superb'' innings that Don Bradman would have been proud of.
The 91-year-old Brown described Hayden's 380 as ``remarkable.''
``He scored quickly and technically,'' he said.
``The innings was superb.''
Brown said Bradman, who held the Australian record since 1930 and with Taylor after 1998, would have been the first to congratulate Hayden's feat.
``I think Don, if he was here, would have appreciated the fact that records are made to be broken,'' Brown told Australian Associated Press in Brisbane.
``It's almost inevitable that someone would come along and break the record.
He's a really nice guy and it couldn't have been done by a better fellow.''
* * *
380 Mathew Hayden Australia v Zimbabwe at Melbourne, 1st Test, 2003
375 B.C. Lara West Indies v England at St. John's, 5th Test, 1993/94
365 * G.S. Sobers West Indies v Pakistan at Kingston, 3rd Test, 1957/58
364 L. Hutton England v Australia at The Oval, 5th Test, 1938
340 S.T. Jayasuriya Sri Lanka v India at Colombo (RPS), 1st Test, 1997/98
337 Hanif Mohammad Pakistan v West Indies at Bridgetown, 1st Test, 1957/58
336 * W.R. Hammond England v New Zealand at Auckland, 2nd Test, 1932/33
334 * M.A. Taylor Australia v Pakistan at Peshawar, 2nd Test, 1998/99
334 D.G. Bradman Australia v England at Leeds, 3rd Test, 1930
333 G.A. Gooch England v India at Lord's, 1st Test, 1990
329 Inzamum-ul-Haq Pakistan v New Zealand at Lahore, 1st Test, 2002
325 A. Sandham England v West Indies at Kingston, 4th Test, 1929/30
311 R.B. Simpson Australia v England at Manchester, 4th Test, 1964
310* J.H. Edrich England v New Zealand at Leeds, 3rd Test, 1965
307 R.M. Cowper Australia v England at Melbourne, 5th Test, 1965/66
304 D.G. Bradman Australia v England at Leeds, 4th Test, 1934
302 L.G. Rowe West Indies v England at Bridgetown, 3rd Test, 1973/74.
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