The joy of six for Siddle
As first days go, it wasn’t quite akin to the new boy at school having his head shoved down the loo by the bigger kids – but it wasn’t far off for England. And things had looked so promising just after tea with Alastair Cook and Ian Bell going well and Australia resorting to bowling outside off-stump in order to stem the flow of runs. Enter Peter Siddle who celebrated his birthday and overwhelmingly justified his selection ahead of Doug Bollinger with only the eighth hat-trick in Ashes history. Siddle looked the most likely bowler all day and made England pay for the likes of Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Cook failing to push on to a big score after getting good starts – it was certainly nothing to do with the pitch, which makes Siddle’s six wickets all the more impressive.
The opening shots of an all too familiar story
Steve Harmison’s horror first ball of the 2006/07 series was memorable for all the wrong reasons, but with more focus than usual on the opening delivery of the match, Ben Hilfenhaus produced an instantly forgettable innocuous delivery that passed harmlessly past Andrew Strauss’ off-stump. His third ball is the one that will be remembered though – not that it was a good one – with Strauss cutting a poor delivery straight to gully. By the end of the day, with Simon Katich hitting Graeme Swann’s first two deliveries for four you could visibly see the confidence draining from England. What is it with England and starting Brisbane tests so badly?
X-Factor or X-Rated?
Xavier Doherty’s rapid rise from obscurity to Australia’s test team has created a lot of interest – not least because of his first-class bowling average of 48. But he did well for someone on debut and bowled tidily getting turn, bounce and occasional drift as he went past the outside edge on more than one occasion. The battle with Pietersen was fascinating, with KP shading it this time. It’s a shame for Australia that Doherty wasn’t so steady in the field when failing to hold on at point when Cook was only 26. But in the end it didn’t really matter and Doherty then did what a good spinner should by mopping up England’s last two wickets. A promising start if not quite something for Simon Cowell to get excited about yet.
KP watch – a cure for dozing on the sofa
A Pietersen innings always borders on the frenetic rather than the calm and this one was no different as he looked to attack both seamers and Doherty alike. It certainly stopped us dozing off on the sofa and to our tired eyes KP looked in fine fettle. But with the ball going soft and the prospect of his first test hundred for an eon there for the taking, Pietersen drove lazily at a good one from Siddle. On this form however, it can be only a matter of time before KP reaches three figures again.
Player of the day
Cook fought admirably for his 67 and Bell looked in imperious touch once again (maybe he should be moved up the order?), but there can be only one choice here. Siddle, playing his first test since January, was immense and made history. No doubt he will celebrate his six wickets and his 26th birthday with a glass or two of Bollinger (apologies to Dougie).
Zero of the day
It has to be Strauss. The captain who hadn’t put a foot wrong all tour chose the most inopportune time to err. As his momentary delay on the crease showed, no-one will know more than Strauss that his dismissal handed the early initiative to the Australians.
What happens next?
For England and the match, hopefully a couple of early wickets – the bowlers could learn from Siddle who took all his wickets by bowling a full length. For Australia, they will be looking to consolidate, avoid the all-too familiar batting collapses that have haunted them of late and unlike England, the batsmen who get good starts will be looking to cash in. At the moment it is advantage Australia and England look up against it.
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