Peter Siddle justified his place in Australia’s cricket team and gave himself a birthday present in the process with a hat trick against England on the opening day of the Ashes series.
Siddle, picked ahead of Doug Bollinger as the third fast bowler in the home attack, took six wickets on his 26th birthday, including Alastair Cook, Matt Prior and Stuart Broad in consecutive deliveries, to help Australia dismiss England for 260 in Brisbane.
“I don’t want to be mean to parents and friends who have given me presents all over the years, but I think that’s definitely going to be one of the best birthday presents that I’m ever going to get,” Siddle said at news conference.
Playing in his first Test since January following a stress fracture in his back, Siddle finished with career-best figures of 6-54 to answer critics who had questioned the selectors’ decision to pick him ahead of Bollinger in the pace attack.
Siddle swung the opening day Australia’s way as England fell from 197-4 to 197-7 in three deliveries. He had opener Cook caught for 67 at first slip by Shane Watson, then bowled Matt Prior before trapping Stuart Broad leg-before-wicket, completing his triple-strike following a video review.
“A great spell of bowling turned the day on its head a little bit,” said England batsman Ian Bell, who was at the other end when Siddle struck. “I tried to pass on something but it probably wasn’t too good by the looks of it.”
Roared on by a crowd of 35,339 at the Gabba, Siddle said he’d planned to aim for the top of off stump with his hat-trick delivery, though was so excited he ran in and bowled as fast as he could, hitting Broad on the boot with a yorker.
“It was very loud out there and it definitely did pump me up,” Siddle said. “The execution wasn’t quite there. To get him on the full, it was a dream ball and one I’ll definitely remember for a long time.”
It was 11th Test hat trick by an Australian and 38th in 133 years of elite Test cricket. England’s Darren Gough in 1999 was the last player to achieve the feat in an Ashes encounter.
Siddle, a former junior wood-chopping competitor from Victoria state, earlier removed Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood in consecutive overs in the afternoon session after England had advanced to 117-2. He took his sixth wicket by trapping Graeme Swann lbw for 10.
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.
“It’s just been an amazing day,” said Siddle, who claimed 20 wickets in Australia’s 2-1 defeat to England in the 2009 Ashes series. “It’s obviously good to be back playing again and do something for the boys out there.”