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Page last updated at 11:30 GMT, Thursday, 25 November 2010

Ashes: Jonathan Agnew column

First Ashes Test, Brisbane
Dates: 25-29 November Start time: 0000 GMT Coverage: Listen live to Test Match Special on BBC 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW and online (UK only). Watch live on Sky Sports 1, highlights on ITV 4

Peter Siddle celebrates
Siddle celebrates another England wicket at the Gabba

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

After so much anticipation, the opening day of the Ashes certainly did not go the way England would have wanted.

It was only the first of five days, but Andrew Strauss and his men are already up against it at the Gabba and will be hugely disappointed with the way the first Test has gone so far.

They were bowled out cheaply, the ball did not swing for them at the end and Graeme Swann's first two deliveries were smacked for four - it was all a reality check after such a smooth build-up to the series.

After looking very comfortable in the warm-up matches, on the first day it actually mattered - bang, it didn't go well.

The man of the day was undoubtedly Peter Siddle, the Victorian who took Australia's 11th Test match hat-trick and produced career-best figures of 6-54, all on his 26th birthday, too.

Siddle bowled absolutely brilliantly, just perfect for the conditions - he found the right length, a bit fuller than usual, and got the ball to move away from the bat just enough too.

What will frustrate England further is the way the Australian openers breezed on to 25-0 at the end with the ball not swinging

He had a terrific day, no mean feat considering there was controversy about him even playing in the game, with some Australians feeling Doug Bollinger should have been picked, but how he proved the doubters wrong.

Siddle's performance was a model for bowling on this wicket and England must now try to copy it. The hat-trick was hugely impressive - to get a well-set opener caught at slip, bowl Prior and then home the ball in on the stumps to Stuart Broad, a left-hander, for the hat-trick ball was terrific and he deserves all the accolades he gets.

He was head and shoulders above the rest of an Australian attack that is honest and hard-working but not exceptional and that is where Siddle made all the difference - by producing one devastating spell that rocked England.

This is not normally a high-scoring ground in the first innings of a Test match and if you get 300 you are in with a shout usually, but England fell short of that.


They had their moments with Kevin Pietersen, Alastair Cook and Ian Bell all going well and should have got to 320 or 330, but - and I said this during the preparation matches - too many batsmen have been getting in and looking good and getting out and that is not good enough if you want to win an Ashes series.

This is the kind of ground where if you bowl it in the right place on the first morning you will get some assistance, but certainly Pietersen and Jonathan Trott played shots which caused their own downfalls.

The pitch is a little slower than we are used to seeing at the Gabba and there is a bit of help in there, and England will also be frustrated by the way the Australian openers breezed to 25-0 at the end.

There seemed to be no movement for the attack at all and that is something they will hope changes on Friday, in particular James Anderson, who needs that ball to swing and so far has bowled gun-barrel straight.

Though the England dressing-room will have been a disappointed place at the end of the day, this is only the first of a possible 25 days in the series, and they have the ability to fight back as they have shown before.

If they can restrict Australia to 320 or 330 in their first innings, and they will have to work extremely hard to do so, then a positive result will still be possible for England.

All is not lost, but they will be looking for an awful lot more from now on.

Jonathan Agnew was talking to BBC Sport's Jonathan Stevenson.

Listen to the Ashes live on Test Match Special on BBC 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW and online (UK users only) - series starts 25 November 2010.
Archive: Relive past Ashes series

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see also
Justin Langer's key moments
25 Nov 10 |  Cricket
Siddle hat-trick shocks England
25 Nov 10 |  Cricket
Bell confident of England revival
25 Nov 10 |  Cricket
First Ashes Test in photos
25 Nov 10 |  England
Watch BBC Sport's Ashes trail
19 Nov 10 |  Test Match Special
England in Australia 2010-11
08 Oct 09 |  Cricket
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket

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