Many people spend their 26th birthday running
through racks of shots and playing the role of the tipsy fool on the dance
floor; Peter Siddle, however, spent his running through England and playing the
tourists like the proverbial fiddle.
The snarling Victorian became the 11th
Australian to take a Test match hat-trick, and ended with galling (insert
'ripping' if you are of a Baggy Green persuasion) figures of six for 54 which effectively
broke the back of England's paltry first-innings offering.
After Andrew Strauss's third-ball 'epic
fail', it was up to Jonathan Trott to 'go to the trenches' for England, digging
one of his own around leg stump to mark his guard, while Alastair Cook embarked
on an attritional 168-ball half-century.
Paul Collingwood briefly visited the crease
like a competition winner getting a treat following his tour of the Gabba, but
he too was back in the hutch after Kevin Pietersen's brisk and promising 43 came to
an abrupt end.
Siddle was responsible for the wickets of
Cook, KP and Colly, but his work had only just begun: Matt Prior, Stuart Broad
and Graeme Swann joined the menacing paceman's 'anti-Pom' party, and England
were sinking fast.
Amid all the middle-to-lower order chaos,
Ian Bell played with an abundance of class and a flourish to pepper the
extra-cover boundary with impeccable timing, and even an uncharacteristic
The Warwickshire man, who famously coats
his bat in primrose oil for his own delight, caressed the ball around the
Woolloongabba with consummate ease, even managing to steal some of the
attention from the bloodthirsty Siddle.
First Cook was snaffled by Shane 'look
mate, where's the beach?' Watson, and no sooner had the Graham Gooch protege
neatly tucked the willow under his arm, but Matty Prior was swiftly back in the
pavilion to join him after playing the line of his off peg to a delivery which
zipped back and sent his leg stump off for a jog.
Broad attempted to put the dampeners on the
feat by having the third wicket referred after being rapped on the pads with
the Aussie fielders in delirium, but the Earl Grey-sipping gents upstairs had
enough of a grasp on Ashes sentiment to uphold the decision. And because it was
patently out, of course.
From Cowers' perch in Bay 60 of the Gabba,
a vociferous, football ground atmosphere was generated - but only once the hat-trick came. The Barmy Army took
until the final session before offering up a rather belated "Ing-er-lund"
chant, which was as half-hearted as Andrew Strauss's cut shot, before the late
splurge of wickets had Australia singing when they were winning.
Before the start of play you could have
fitted every one of Siddle's supporters in a taxi as every Aussie you bumped
into complained about Doug 'the fake rug' Bollinger's omission from the side.
Six hours later, however, Siddle was feted by the home supporters, with the "Warne-y"
chant cleverly adapted to fit his surname.
You'd have hoped for a little more musical
invention from the country which produced both Men at Work and Stefan Dennis,
but it was fitting recognition of the perma-angry 'tache-sporting seamer's
quite sensational birthday performance.
SHOT OF THE DAY: The shortlist included cover drives from KP and Bell through the
covers, and Paul Collingwood's lone scoring shot - a rocket-like on drive, but
Jimmy Anderson snaffles the award for a picture-perfect reverse sweep off
Xavier 'X Factor' Doherty as he released two years of pent-up frustration from
playing incessant forward defences.
OF THE DAY: 'Snarling' P.M. Siddle became the 11th
Australian to take a Test match hat-trick. No doubt he will celebrate by
punching a wall somewhere and growling, but the whole of Australia will be doffing
their sunhats in his direction.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: "Come on
England, let's get back into it. The Aussies officially have no
good batsmen anymore, apart from Ponting. Broad will take eight wickets, with
Swann and Finn taking one each. Come on ENGLAND. THREE
LIONS," (Adam remains bullish despite Australia's rampant start.)
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