BRISBANE (Reuters) - Australian Peter Siddle made an explosive return to test cricket with six wickets, including a hat-trick, on the first day of the Ashes on Thursday -- not a bad day for a fast bowler many thought should not be in the side.
Siddle, who took 60 wickets in 17 tests before a stress fracture to his back forced him into rehabilitation for 10 months this year, was a controversial choice ahead of fellow quick bowler Doug Bollinger for the Ashes opener.
After fully vindicating the selectors’ faith in him by putting Australia in charge at the Gabba -- on his 26th birthday to boot -- the Victorian said he never doubted that he would get back in the wickets at test level.
“I knew that if I could do something for the team, be patient and consistent, things would happen at some stage in this series,” he said.
“I knew if I could work hard enough and got everything right, I could come back a better cricketer and I’ve done that,” he added. “I know not every day is going to be like this, that’s for sure, but I‘m going to make the most of it now.”
Siddle spent part of his recuperation at Australian Rules club Carlton, which confirmed his initial impression that his own lack of professionalism had contributed to the problem.
“It was disappointing to get the injury last year, I knew there were things I had to change, my body wasn’t in good shape for the rigours of test cricket,” he said.
After claiming the wickets of Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood in his second spell of the day, Siddle’s inspired third spell accounted for Alastair Cook, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann, taking England from 197-4 to 228-8.
Debutant spinner Xavier Doherty picked up the last two wickets to leave England all out for 260. Australia were 25 without loss at the close of play.
Watching England parade the Ashes around the Oval last year had been a great motivation, Siddle said.
”It’s a massive part of it, you never want to lose any game, let alone the Ashes. I remember it now, the last wicket falling at the Oval test and going out on the field for the presentation.
“That’s something you ...definitely don’t want to see again.”
While “honoured” to join spin-bowling great Shane Warne and England’s Darren Gough as the only three players to have taken Ashes hat-tricks in the last century, the bigger satisfaction for Siddle was just to be back playing for his country.
“I just want to be out there with the baggy green on, play consistent cricket, be out there with the boys and win the cricket matches,” he said.
“It’s a good start but there’s still 24 days to go and anything could happen in that time.”
Editing by Patrick Johnston. To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org