England skittled by Siddle
Bell and Cook make half-centuries but tourists collapse in Brisbane
By Rob Lancaster. Last Updated: 26/11/10 7:14am
Siddle: claimed 6-54
Peter Siddle celebrated his 26th birthday in style with an Ashes hat-trick as England endured an opening day to forget in Brisbane.
The Australia seamer, back in the team following a spell on the sidelines with a back injury, dismissed Alastair Cook, who battled hard for 67, Matt Prior and Stuart Broad in successive deliveries on his way to figures of 6-54.
He had already gone along way to repaying the faith of the selectors, who had picked him ahead of Doug Bollinger, by getting rid of Kevin Pietersen (43) and Paul Collingwood during the afternoon session at the Gabba.
Ian Bell did his best with a classy 76 but it was only enough to get England through to 260, a below-par total that Australia, who reached 25-0 in reply by the close, will have high hopes of surpassing, and by some distance too.
It was certainly not the kind of score visiting captain Andrew Strauss would have had in his mind when he won the toss and quickly opted to bat first.
The skipper, though, may have had second thoughts once he steered the third ball of the series straight to gully. Ben Hilfenhaus sent one down that was short and wide but Strauss couldn't decide whether to go over the top or go along the ground. In the end he did neither, instead finding Mike Hussey's hands.
Jonathan Trott looked as shocked as anyone to be in quickly, possibly explaining his unconvincing innings of 29 that was ended by Shane Watson.
Cook and Pietersen managed to steady the ship with a partnership of 76 for the third wicket - though only thanks to debutant Xavier Doherty's inability to take a catch off the former at point when he had just 26 to his name.
Pietersen looked in superb touch during a 70-ball knock that yielded six fours. There were no issues at all against the left-arm spin of Doherty, who bowled tidily enough without ever really threatening, as he moved serenely along to 43.
It therefore came as a surprise when Siddle tempted him into a driving at one pitched up that took the edge; Australia skipper Ricky Ponting gleefully accepting the chance at second slip to leave the score at 117-3.
Collingwood fell in almost identical fashion just eight runs later, though this time it was Marcus North, stationed at third slip, who took the catch.
England once again had to rebuild with Cook and Bell, who carried straight on from his superb century against Australia A, seeing them to 174-4 by tea, meaning the first two sessions had yielded 86 runs and two wickets.
Both sides turned their attention to the impending new ball at the start of the evening's play, Australia's policy of bowling almost exclusively wide of the off stump leading to umpires Billy Doctrove and Aleem Dar taking action.
The tactic almost sent the crowd into a slumber until Siddle changed the complexion of the day - and possibly the match - in three deliveries.
He started the hat-trick by ending Cook's long vigil after 167 deliveries, the left-hander pushing away outside off stump to nick through to Shane Watson.
From then on the Victorian simply followed the old adage of bowling full and straight to become just the 11th Australian to take a Test hat-trick.
Prior was comprehensively bowled trying to drive and while Broad did stop his delivery hitting the stumps, it was only due to it hitting his boot. Umpire Dar raised his finger and despite trying to save his bacon with a referral, Broad was a goner too.
Graeme Swann (10) became Siddle's sixth victim when he was trapped lbw, again a referral being used in hope more than expectation, the only real debating point being over how many stumps it would have flattened.
Having watched the carnage unfold from the other end Bell was left to fight a lone battle, reaching his 24th Test half-century before becoming Doherty's first Test scalp when a mis-hit drive found Watson in the deep.
James Anderson quickly became victim No.2 for Doherty when attempting a lavish reverse sweep, meaning England had been bowled out in 76.5 overs.
Australia's opening duo of Watson and Simon Katich made sure the visitors didn't even get a late wicket to lift their spirits. After a serene build-up down under, things couldn't have gone much worse for Strauss and co.