England can’t solve the riddle of Siddle

Australian bowler takes five wickets on the opening day of first test at Trent Bridge as home side are skttled out for 215

 England’s Jonny Bairstow  bowled by Mitchell Starc  during the  Ashes Test match between England and Australia at Trent Bridge. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

England’s Jonny Bairstow bowled by Mitchell Starc during the Ashes Test match between England and Australia at Trent Bridge. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)


England had no answer, principally to Peter Siddle, as they were bowled out for 215 on day one of the Ashes at Trent Bridge.

A mixture of errant shots and increasingly skilful use of awkward conditions from an Australia seam attack led by Siddle (five for 50) undermined the hosts after Alastair Cook had taken a gamble with the elements by choosing to bat first.

Under heavy cloud cover but on a dry pitch expected to deteriorate by the weekend, England were unable to repay their captain’s faith as no one managed a half-century in an innings which lasted only 59 overs.

First-change Siddle was the scourge of the specialist batsmen, despite half-century stands between Jonathan Trott and Joe Root and then Ian Bell and Jonny Bairstow.

It was often tough going for England, especially in the afternoon when four wickets fell as the tourists took better advantage of favourable conditions than they had before lunch.

In only seven overs after tea, Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson then made short work of the tail once Stuart Broad’s short-lived counter-attack was done. Australia did not start particularly well this morning, Pattinson betraying his early nerves as the first ball of the series was called a wide by Aleem Dar when the young fast bowler served up a loopy bouncer to Cook.

Starc did not test the England openers as much as his captain would have hoped either, but his lines were tighter than those of his new-ball partner. It took until the final delivery of the ninth over for Pattinson to make the lateral movement count, drawing Cook into the drive for a routine edge behind.

Siddle’s first four-over spell, replacing Pattinson, cost 27 runs — but when Michael Clarke switched him to the Radcliffe Road end, the move was immediately successful.

With his first ball, Siddle cut short Root’s first attempt as a Test opener — bowling him off-stump with a cunning, outswinging yorker. Root was unique among the top four that he did not play a significant part in his own downfall. Top-scorer Trott batted well either side of lunch.

But after Kevin Pietersen pushed away from his body at Siddle and edged to second slip, England’s reliable number three also had cause for regret when he aimed a crooked cover-drive at the same bowler and chopped on two short of his 50.

Trott wisely thought better, at the last moment, of multiplying his crime by aiming an angry swish on his way off at stumps already in disarray. His departure left Bell and new batsman Bairstow together with just four runs between them.

Bell had pulled the 13th ball he faced, from Siddle, for a commanding four but took until his 31st to muster his second scoring shot — another boundary, through straight midwicket and again off Australia’s most successful bowler.

There was an imbalance of boundaries, through attacking fields and over an unforgiving outfield — and despite England’s struggles, 32 fours by tea accounted for more than two-thirds of the total. Sadly for the hosts, batsman error returned to give Australia the advantage — courtesy of Siddle again.

Bell edged some outswing to slip, and then Matt Prior’s adventurous instincts brought only a single before he crunched a catch to cover. Broad reprised the Prior approach after tea, and hit five fours in a stand of 33 with Bairstow.

But he mistimed an attempted pull at Pattinson high back to the bowler, and Starc took two wickets in two balls when Bairstow aimed an on-drive but lost his off-stump and Steven Finn was caught-behind driving for a golden duck.

Graeme Swann met the tamest of ends, propping a catch to cover off Pattinson (three for 69) — and England’s last six wickets had fallen for 37 runs, the final four for only two.

England though responded with a flurry of wickets of their own with Steven Finn and Jimmy Anderson taking a brace apiece as Australia were reduced to 53 for four at one point. Shane Watson (13), Chris Rogers (16), Ed Cowman (0) and Michael Clarke (0) were the bastmen dismissed.

The Aussies recovered 75 for four at stumps on a hugely enteraining opning days at Trent Bridge.