The Ashes 2013: Peter Siddle skittles England before Anderson and co. strike back
The first day of an Ashes series is rarely dull.
Last time out, in Australia, Peter Siddle took a first day hat-trick.
There was Steve Harmison’s infamous first ball wide in the 2006/07 tour and the bloodying of Ricky Ponting‘s cheek in 2005.
The first day’s play of the 2013 Ashes did not disappoint in comparison. It was a compelling contest between bat and ball throughout the day, which is the perfect recipe for enthralling Test cricket.
With England 98-2 at Lunch, they had Jonathon Trott looking ominously settled in and Kevin Pietersen ready to put himself firmly in centre stage. England will have perhaps been slightly happier.
James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc both showed their inexperience early on, failing to control the prodigious swing on offer and bowling far too wide, far too often. This allowed Joe Root, in particular, to settle into his first Ashes Test without too much trouble.
The fresh-faced Yorkshireman looked composed, as he always does, and showed glimpses of the class which persuaded the England management to ditch the more experienced Nick Compton. Before Root was undone by the excellent Peter Siddle, he had displayed plenty of evidence to suggest he may well have a decisive impact on this series.
Without Siddle, Australia may have ended today with their tail firmly between their legs. After his first four overs had gone for 27, Siddle changed ends. It paid dividends immediately with the wicket of Root and Siddle continued to rattle England, gaining significant swing away from the right hander, something he is not normally known for.
Despite a brief rally from another Yorkshireman making his Ashes debut, Jonny Bairstow, Australia were impressively ruthless in their dismantlement of England’s lower order. The pace trio of Pattinson, Starc and Siddle garnered significant movement allied with enough pace to give England’s batsmen the hurry-up.
However, when England took the field, having been bowled out for just 215, they showed just how tight this series might end up being. Thanks in no small part to the excellence of both bowling attacks.
After Shane Watson had pummelled Steven Finn for two boundaries, there might have been a few mumbles and grumbles, worries about a thrashing. There needn’t have been. Finn came back to produce, perhaps not a cracker, but a ball doing just enough to find the edge of Watson’s blade as he attempted yet another, perhaps ill advised, booming drive. Next ball Ed Cowan did all the work for him as the usually workmanlike and cautious batsman flayed at a wide one and provided Finn with his second in two balls.
His hat-trick ball was certainly the best of the lot, narrowly missing the edge of captain Michael Clarke‘s bat after yet another attempt at a big drive early on.
England fans didn’t have to wait long for more success though as James Anderson produced an absolute gobsmacker (it seems the only relevant word, as my jaw was left open mouthed for a solid two and a half minutes afterwards) to remove the Australian captain. There was nothing he could have done, I would have liked to have seen the great Don attempt to keep that one out, now that would have been a true test of his greatness.
Australia finished on 75-4, after Steve Smith had batted admirably in the face of some excellent bowling from Finn and Anderson.
Tomorrow, with clear skies expected, promises to be another tantalising day of Ashes cricket as Australia look to build a substantial first innings lead, one big enough to ward off the dangers of Graeme Swann on a dry, crumbling and cracking fifth day pitch.
It promises to be a cracker. As per usual.