Brisbane:Peter Siddle says he got the perfect birthday present as he claimed a hat-trick on his way to career-best figures of 6-54 on the opening day of the first Ashes Test against England on Thursday.
Siddle had woken up on the morning of his 26th birthday to a barrage of criticism over his selection ahead of Doug Bollinger for the first Test team.
But by 3:50pm on Thursday he had answered his critics in the best possible way as his devastating spell put Australia firmly in control.
"I don't want to sound mean to my parents and friends who have given me presents over the years, but I think that is definitely going to be one of the best birthday presents that I'm ever going to get," a delighted Siddle said later.
"It's just an amazing feeling and I guess it's going to sink in a bit more over the next few days."
Siddle, who had been out of the Test team since January due to a back injury, was preferred to Bollinger despite the New South Wales Blues cricketer's impressive form over the past year.
However, the enthusiastic Siddle has long been one of Ricky Ponting's favourites and he rewarded his captain by charging in all day when other bowlers appeared to be flagging.
"Being out of the game for so long, there's obviously been a lot of talk (about my selection)," he said.
"But I just knew that if I did everything I could do to get back on the park, and work hard, that's all I could control.
"I knew that whenever I got my opportunity again, be it this game or the next, or in six months' time, I had to do the best I could."
Siddle looked Australia's most likely bowler throughout the day, despite having to wait until England reached 117-2 before claiming his first scalp -- the dangerous Kevin Pietersen driving at a full delivery only to be caught at slip.
He had Collingwood caught in his next over before Alistair Cook and Ian Bell batted England back into the match with hardly a false stroke between them.
But at 197-4, Siddle had Cook caught at second slip, clean bowled Matt Prior next ball then had Stuart Broad trapped in front lbw with an inswinger to become the 11th Australian to take a Test hat-trick.
He said he tried not to think about a possible hat-trick when he was walking back to his mark after dismissing Prior.
"It didn't really worry me to much about being a hat-trick ball but when I got back to the top of my mark the crowd obviously started to get behind me and started to roar," he said.
"It was pretty loud out there and it did pump me up and I just really wanted to charge in and bowl fast.
"It was a dream ball and one I'll never forget."