BRISBANE: Australian paceman Peter Siddle ripped apart England’s lower middle order with a hat trick on his way to figures of 6-54 as the tourists were dismissed for 260 late on the first day of the first Ashes Test on Thursday.
Australia’s Simon Katich and Shane Watson negotiated the last seven overs of the day to reach 25 without loss on what ultimately proved to a good day for the home side.
It was a great birthday for Siddle, who claimed the key wickets of Kevin Pietersen (43) and Alastair Cook (67) in two brilliant spells that pegged the tourists back just when they looked like taking control.
“I don’t want to be mean to my parents and people like that who have given me presents over the years but I think that’s going to be one of the best birthday presents I’m ever going to get,” the 26-year-old told reporters.
“It’s an amazing feeling and I guess it’s going to sink in over the next few days.” The Victorian more than justified his inclusion in the bowling attack at the expense of Doug Bollinger by claiming career best figures, his third five-wicket Test haul and becoming the 11th Australian to take a Test hat-trick.
England’s talisman Pietersen and Paul Collingwood (4) both fell to slip catches after lunch but it was Siddle’s third spell that really set the day alight and dented England’s hopes of ending Australia’s 22-year unbeaten run in Tests at the Gabba.
Opener Cook, who had held the England innings together with a dogged half-century, went first when Shane Watson juggled the ball in the slips before finally securing the catch.
Siddle kept it simple with his next ball, a venomous full delivery that took out wicketkeeper Matt Prior’s middle stump and sent him back to the dressing room for a golden duck, putting the bustling bowler on a hat-trick.
The capacity crowd rose to their feet as Stuart Broad walked out to the crease and went into wild celebrations as Siddle fired down an inswinger that struck the batsman on the toe, umpire Aleem Dar raising his finger for lbw.
“When I got back to the top of the mark, the crowd got behind me and it did pump me up,” Siddle said. “I just wanted to charge in, bowl hard and hit the top of (the) off (stump).
“The execution wasn’t quite there but it was a dream ball and one I’ll remember for a long time.” Siddle was mobbed by his teammates but the euphoria was quietened when Broad appealed the decision to the television umpire before the replays confirmed Dar’s decision.
Graeme Swann managed to fend off the last delivery of the over but lasted only 22 minutes before he became Siddle’s sixth victim, trapped leg before for 10.
Ian Bell, who hit a gutsy 76, was the last recognized England batsman to fall to give Xavier Doherty his first Test wicket on debut and the left-arm spinner later bowled James Anderson to end England’s innings.
“We’re not a million miles away from a par score,” said Bell. “It was a better first day than we had last time we were here. It hasn’t all gone to plan today but we’re going to come out scrapping tomorrow morning.” England’s hopes of a good start in their quest to win their first Ashes series on Australian soil since 1986-87 had received a major blow in the first three minutes when Strauss cut the third ball of the series straight to Mike Hussey at gully.
“You want to target the captain whenever and to get him first up for a duck, that’s a great start,” Siddle added.
“Obviously he was the key player of the last series, and he’s the one we really wanted to get.” Katich will resume on 15 not out alongside Watson, who was on nine at the close of play.
“Ten wickets in a day and none down at the end of it, that’s probably going to be a good position,” said Siddle.
“That’s the start we wanted, to show everybody how we’re going to play and we’re definitely not going to change that for the rest of the series.”