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