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Aussie Siddle stuns England
London, Jul 9 (Agencies):
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Published on 9 Jul. 2009 11:47 PM IST
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Victorian paceman Peter Siddle, gave both Andrew Flintoff and Matt Prior the death rattle just before the close. That helped to snatch the initiative for the Aussies on a pulsating day of Test cricket. Wales has been gripped by Ashes fever and the game’s oldest rivals delivered big time in a topsyturvy day that gave us an insight into just how close this series will be. But having won the toss, England will be annoyed to end day one on 336-7. Siddle announced himself with a nasty bumper that connected with Ravi Bopara’s throat and helmet. And at the end of the day he got the scalps that mattered. He forced Flintoff (left) to play on for 37 and then bowled Prior with a fabulous inswinger for 56. England could have taken the match away from Australia if they had been more ruthless. No.1 on the crime sheet was Kevin Pietersen. He should have scored his third Ashes ton but surrendered his wicket in ridiculous style, proving the theory that genius is one step away from madness. Whether it hit his helmet or not, his crazy pre-meditated sweep against the distinctly average off-spin of Nathan Hauritz helped haul Australia back into the game. The ball ballooned to Simon Katich at short leg. Losing Pietersen for 69 so soon after Paul Collingwood had gone for 64 could have spoiled things completely, but at least England’s all-rounders added a much-needed 86 to steady the ship. At long last the day had arrived when we were done with the waiting, the wondering, the pondering and the guessing, it was down to action although we did have to wait for the seemingly endless singing to stop. There appeared to be no danger of a cricket match breaking out as long as the lovely Katherine Jenkins was warbling away, but once she exited stage left the real entertainment could begin. To begin with it was the Aussie bowlers who looked tentative. Mitchell Johnson - the great leftarm hope - was simply innocuous. Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook became England’s longestserving opening partnership in history when they walked to the crease together for the 55th time. They were bedding in nicely until Cook, who had been in no trouble at all, guided one to gully’s right. The cat-like Mike Hussey leapt to secure Ben Hilfenhaus his first Ashes scalp. Almost immediately the nerves transferred to England as Bopara walked to the crease and took that blow to the throat from Siddle, a man who enjoys hitting batsmen more than the Welsh like a song. But Bopara did help add 46 before the skipper departed to a short ball from Johnson, gloved to slip. At 67-2 Bopara had to get over his tentative start, and two glorious shots off Siddle and then Johnson suggested he had. But just when he was set he fell for the sucker punch of a slower ball - something Test No.3’s should be wise to. Losing three wickets before lunch after deciding to bat was poor, especially when this new Test pitch had no more demons than an episode of Teletubbies. Pietersen and Paul Collingwood though simply love batting together and Australia appear to be their favourite opponents. Their stand of 310 in a losing cause in Adelaide was a beauty and they were clearly keen to set out on a similar journey. If the morning belonged to Australia then the afternoon was all about Pietersen and Colly, who soon realised that they had very little to worry about. It was almost too easy. They weren’t smashing it to all parts, but then again this is Test cricket and the session was more compelling than anything Twenty20 cricket can throw up. The pitch was taking turn from Hauritz and part-timer Michael Clarke but it was slow and easy to play, with both batsmen making it to 50 and then tea without fuss. Hilfenhaus would almost certainly not have played had Brett Lee been fit, but he bowled tightly and with a hint of swing and should have ended Pietersen’s day by having him stone dead lbw only for umpire Billy Doctrove to knock him back. He got his rewards in his next over though as Collingwood nibbled one, and keeper. Brad Haddin took a smart catch. Pietersen needed to recompose himself, but instead he played the worst shot of the day and paid the price. The classy Prior and Flintoff though looked in superb touch and it was just a shame they couldn’t stick it out as Siddle struck.

 
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