Ashes Diary: The man to blame for England's collapse? Er, their bowling coach

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The Independent Online

Hat-trick hero Peter Siddle paid handsome tribute to his mentor yesterday after sending England reeling. "He has played a massive part in my development and I spent a lot of time with him before I played Test cricket," he said.

"As I was growing up, I got the opportunity to do a bit of coaching with him. He has been great supporter of my cricket and he's a great coach."

How charming it was of him to remember the man who helped him on the way up and with whom he still keeps in touch. And who is this paragon, who was so responsible for nurturing the man who wrecked England's first-day Ashes dreams? None other than David Saker, the England bowling coach.

England might have been further disquieted by Siddle's additional comments. "It's disappointing to see him in opposition colours, for sure. But I still stay in contact with him and hopefully one day he will be back behind us."

Beckham blunders

Strauss and Co aren't the only Englishmen disappointing Down Under at the moment. David Beckham is in the country for LA Galaxy's encounter with Newcastle Jets tomorrow but not everyone is chuffed. Apparently Becks forgot to greet onlookers at the airport. "You'd think a little wave wouldn't be too hard, would you," said a woman called Lisa in the local press. "'I came here to see Becks because I can't see him on Saturday because my work Christmas party is on, but I would have liked a wave." And I thought we were supposed to be the whingers.

Aussie punks gob on English hopes

Apparently the Aussie press is a bit down on their current side, but you wouldn't have known it from the response to England's first-day travails. "Sid Vicious smashes Poms," said the Herald Sun: "Peter Siddle ripped out England's heart with a drama-charged hat-trick he completed with a replica of the sandshoe crushers that gave Jeff Thomson his place in Ashes legend... Ashes battles are filled with individual heroics and Siddle wrote a chapter of his own on his 26th birthday," they added. "Siddle hat-trick tears England apart," claimed the Australian, rather more prosaically, while "Siddle hat-trick rocks England," was the best the Sydney Morning Herald could come up with. The Age, meanwhile, picked up the Sid Vicious line and ran with it: "The man they called Sid Vicious made England's middle-order look like punks," they wrote. Which punks, they don't say – but I'd guess The Damned.

Tourists take charge in the cyber battle

England may or may not win the Ashes this winter (may not looks a better bet after the first day) but there is one way in which we can be sure of beating Australia, and that's in terms of population. No surprise, then, that we've got them on the run on Facebook. The latest moronic craze to hit the social networking site is a mini-Ashes battle consisting of a race to get people to 'like' either the England cricket team or their Antipodean rivals. As I write, England has 14,600 'likes' to Australia's 11,100. Read that and weep, Aussies.

Hero's mum prefers pyjama cricket

Plenty of us will have watched the first day's cricket in our PJs, but at least we had the excuse of it being the middle of the night. Not so Peter Siddle's mum. "I was sitting here in my pyjamas because I had the day off work," said Allison Siddle of the moment she saw her son decimate England's middle order with the first Aussie Ashes hat-trick in 16 years. "Pete can perform so well when he's under pressure. I just hope this gets some of the non-believers off his back. I've been very superstitious and didn't want to leave my seat. It was unbelievable." Unbelievable is right. It must have been about 4pm in Oz. Even students are up and about by then.