Sizzling Siddle rips England to shreds as Australia snatch control in Ashes opener

By Lawrence Booth
Cricket Writer at the Gabba
Last updated at 2:32 PM on 25th November 2010

A stirring hat-trick from Peter Siddle, a late and controversial inclusion in Australia's line-up, lit up the opening day of the Ashes as England were bowled out for a below-par 260 in Brisbane.

With the tourists comfortably placed on 197 for four going into the 10th over after tea, the Victorian fast bowler celebrated his 26th birthday by removing Alastair Cook (caught at first slip), Matt Prior (bowled) and Stuart Broad (lbw) without reply. Previously cloaked in nervous tension, the Gabba erupted into life: Ashes drama at its most unstinting.

Graeme Swann at least prevented Siddle from becoming the first Test bowler to take four wickets in four balls, but the damage was done. Having bowled with un-Australian caution for most of the post-tea session, Ricky Ponting's men suddenly rediscovered their strut. After all the hype, the reality had somehow managed to keep up.

On fire: Peter Siddle celebrates after claiming a hat trick by dismissing Stuart Broad

On fire: Peter Siddle celebrates after claiming a hat trick by dismissing Stuart Broad

Not since Shane Warne removed the less glamorous trio of Darren Gough, Phil DeFreitas and Devon Malcolm at Melbourne in 1994-95 has an Australian claimed an Ashes hat-trick. Before that, you had to go back to Hugh Trumble in 1903-04. No wonder Siddle's feat felt like instant history.

For England, it was a crazy five minutes that could yet cost them the game, undoing all the hard work of the previous four hours after Andrew Strauss - having won a good toss - had carved Ben Hilfenhaus's third ball of the series straight to Mike Hussey at backward point.

If that immediately seemed like the batting equivalent of Steve Harmison's first-ball wide here four years ago, then England may have comforted themselves with the thought that they are rather more battle-hardened these days.

Star of the show: Siddle is mobbed after dismissing Matt Prior for a golden duck

Star of the show: Siddle is mobbed after dismissing Matt Prior for a golden duck

Jonathan Trott made a fluent 29 before he was bowled through the gate in Shane Watson's first over to make it 41 for 2, before Cook - badly dropped by debutant Xavier Doherty at point off Watson on 26 - and a confident Kevin Pietersen eased nerves by batting through to lunch with the score 86
for 2.

While Cook revelled in the anchor role, leaving studiously and working to leg whenever he had the chance, Pietersen did nothing to suggest that his recent assessment of his own form - 'I'm on fire' - was misplaced hyperbole. Using his feet to Doherty, the left-arm spinner who had been selected with Pietersen's weakness against his type in mind, he was punishing against the quicks. Anything seemed possible.

And then, as so often, Pietersen got himself out, driving at a ball from Siddle that wasn't there from the shot and departing for 43 as Ponting held on smartly at second slip. The batsman left shaking his head. The Australians were understandably jubilant.

The waiting is over: Ben Hilfenhaus bowls the first ball of the Ashes to Andrew Strauss

The waiting is over: Ben Hilfenhaus bowls the first ball of the Ashes to Andrew Strauss

That made it 117 for 3 and it was soon 125 for 4 when Paul Collingwood, having got off the mark with a sweetly timed on-drive the ball before, produced a near carbon-copy of the Pietersen dismissal in Siddle's next over. Marcus North did the rest at third slip and Australian ebb had countered English flow.

Again, though, the game changed. Cook, whose previous 19 Ashes innings had brought him only two scores of over 50, continued to graft, while Ian Bell - another with a point to prove in these parts - exuded all the confidence of a player who may soon no longer need to protest his new-found resilience.

A tea score of 172 for 4 represented virtual parity, and even persuaded Australia to adopt a wide-of-off-stump policy after tea: a far cry from the days when Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath barely gave Pommie batsmen a ball's respite.

Nightmare start: Strauss was dismissed by Hilfenhaus on the third ball of the day

Nightmare start: Strauss was dismissed by Hilfenhaus on the third ball of the day

Then came Siddle. Cook, on 67, was drawn into nibbling at one that left him to end 282 minutes of resistance, before Prior played all round a full-length delivery that demanded circumspection at the very least. Out jogged Broad. The noise crescendoed. Siddle charged in. The hat-trick ball, almost yorker length, pitched on leg-stump and straightened. Siddle roared his appeal to Aleem Dar, who answered in the affirmative.

Pandemonium. If the Gabba had a roof, it would have come off. And although Broad did his best to dilute Australian pleasure by asking for a review, technology confirmed what seemed obvious at the time: leg-before wicket and a game turned on its head.

Having had his selection questioned by sections of the Australian media, Siddle had produced a dreamy riposte. Mobbed by his team-mates, he retreated to a hero's welcome at fine-leg, high-fiving equally ecstatic members of the crowd.

Composed: Alastair Cook hits a four on his way to 67 at the Gabba

Composed: Alastair Cook hits a four on his way to 67 at the Gabba

Bell, though, stood firm. He coaxed 31 out of an eighth-wicket stand with Swann, who perished to an ugly hoick to give Siddle his sixth wicket, then put on 26 for the ninth with Jimmy Anderson, only to gift Doherty his first Test wicket with a chip to Watson at deep cover.  Bell's classy 76 was his ninth Ashes half-century; but a first hundred against Australia will have to wait.

Doherty bowled Anderson, attempting a reverse-sweep only a few balls after his first effort had earned him four, and England had lost six for 63, Siddle finishing with a Test-best 6 for 54. First-innings scores of 260 at the Gabba tend not to be enough for victory.

Impressive: Ian Bell restored his reputation Down Under by top scoring for England

Impressive: Ian Bell restored his reputation Down Under by top scoring for England

That gave England's bowlers 25 minutes to claw back some of the initiative, but the closest they came was when Broad went up for leg-before against Watson - only to decide against a referral because the Australia opener had squeezed the ball onto his pads.

The hosts closed on 25 without loss, even chipping 10 off Swann's first over, and will take early bragging-rights into day two. Since no team has won the Ashes after losing at Brisbane since 1954-55, England's fate in this series may already hang on how well they bowl tomorrow.

High hopes: Kevin Pietersen found some rhythm before falling to the rampant Siddle

High hopes: Kevin Pietersen found some rhythm before falling to the rampant Siddle

 

 

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not debate this issue live on our message boards.

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

It doesn't get much worse than that. OK Siddle bowled well but a few of our batsmen got themselves out and that is unforgiveable.

I can't agree with the writer who said England were 30 runs short of a decent total. 400 would've been a decent total and that is the absolute least the Aussies are going to get.

Things could turn around if we get 3 or 4 wickets before lunch tomorrow but we all know that's not going to happen. The pitch and the ball are not going to help our bowlers and the Aussies do not throw their wickets away like our boys do.

We're in big big trouble. My prediciton for this Test?:

Aus 475
England 325
Aus 111-2 Win by 8 Wickets.

Click to rate     Rating   7

Luch break, tea break, long trousers, jumpers, mobile phones....
Start in the morning....finish who knows when,
What a stupid sport.
- Vanja, London

Everything you have mentioned there is perfectley good - I am struggling to find the bad.

Oh found it. . it's your attitude.

Click to rate     Rating   20

To australian smile,

Yeah, yeah.

Long way to go in convict land.

Click to rate     Rating   3

Even though I was a little disappointed with the outcome, I don't begrudge Siddle his glory today, he worked hard for it and after all it was his BIRTHDAY so he had double celebrations.

Tomorrow is another day so lets see what my English side can pull out of the hat. I just LOVE it when they beat the Aussies, so come on boys, give it all you've got, there are a lot of ex-pats here waiting for VICTORY!

Click to rate     Rating   10

Luch break, tea break, long trousers, jumpers, mobile phones....
Start in the morning....finish who knows when,
What a stupid sport.
- Vanja, London, 25/11/2010 14:53


What a stupid comment

Click to rate     Rating   23

Thanks to our Pommy friends
Good day to be an Aussie !!! ... just to amuse us all ...you last won the ashes in Australia 23 years ago !!! (1987) in that year Margaret Thatcher was your PM, Ronald Regan was the President, The Simpsons first aired, Russia was still the soviet union, and lastly you had a decent cricket team that could win away ... Kiss Kiss from Sydney !!!

Click to rate     Rating   8

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