Fast bowler Peter Siddle took six wickets, including a hat trick, as Australia dismissed England for 260 before reaching 25 without loss in reply on the first day of the Ashes cricket series in Brisbane.
Siddle, who celebrated his 26th birthday yesterday, removed Alastair Cook, Matt Prior and Stuart Broad in consecutive deliveries in the final session. He finished with career-best figures of 6-54 to put the home team in control after England had won the toss.
Spin bowler Xavier Doherty took two wickets in his Test debut as England’s last six batsman fell for 63 runs. Australia openers Shane Watson and Simon Katich replied with an unbeaten partnership of 25 by stumps.
“Obviously there’s still plenty of time in this match, four days to go,” Siddle told reporters after the close of play yesterday. “The morning’s going to be the crucial time. Work hard that first hour and see the new ball off and see where we can go from there.”
Siddle, chosen ahead of Doug Bollinger as the third pace bowler in Australia’s attack, swung the match Australia’s way as England fell from 197-4 to 197-7 in three deliveries. Siddle had opener Cook caught for 67 at first slip by Watson, then bowled Prior and had Broad trapped leg-before-wicket following a video review to complete his triple-strike.
It was the 11th Test hat trick by an Australian and first since Glenn McGrath against the West Indies in the 2000-2001 season. The feat has now been achieved 38 times in 133 years of elite Test cricket.
Siddle, a former junior wood-chopping competitor from Victoria state, took his sixth wicket of the day when Graeme Swann was trapped lbw for 10. Doherty had Ian Bell caught on 76 for his first wicket and then bowled James Anderson for 11 to wrap up the innings.
Siddle had earlier removed Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood in the afternoon session to leave England at 172-4 at the tea interval. England lost two wickets for 86 runs in the morning after captain Andrew Strauss won the toss and opted to bat amid overcast conditions at the Gabba, where Australia is unbeaten in 21 matches going back to 1988.
“The guys are still in good spirits, we knew what we had to do and the guys are ready for it,” Bell told reporters. “We are going to come out scrapping.”
Strauss fell without scoring in the third ball before Watson removed Jonathan Trott for 29. Strauss, who led England to a 2-1 Ashes triumph at home last year, lasted three minutes before swing bowler Ben Hilfenhaus enticed him into a cut shot that flew straight to Mike Hussey at gully.
Cook and Trott then added 41 runs for the second wicket before Watson knocked over Trott’s middle stump with a delivery that speared between bat and pad. Pietersen joined Cook in the middle and the pair guided England to lunch with a 45-run partnership. They extended their stand to 76 runs after the interval before Siddle struck twice.
Pietersen, England’s leading run scorer in Australia four years ago, was on 43 when he drove at a delivery that took an outside edge and was caught by Australia captain Ricky Ponting at second slip. Collingwood followed for 4 soon after, edging to Marcus North at third slip.
Katich will resume on 15 this morning with Watson on 9 as Australia starts day two 235 runs behind England’s first innings total.
“Anything can happen,” Siddle said. “It’s always tough up here with the earlier start. As long as they can work hard and dig in it definitely can set us up for a good position.”
While England won the past two Ashes contests staged in the U.K., its last series victory on Australian soil was in 1986-87. Australia has only lost two home series since that defeat to Mike Gatting’s England team.
“We’re not out of this at all,” Bell said. “We’re only one day into the Ashes series.”
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