Gough's heroics not enough to halt loss in Sydney

IT was one of the greatest moments in Ashes history.

Darren Gough's hat-trick at Sydney in January 1999 will live in the memories of all who saw it.

The Yorkshire pace bowler dismissed Ian Healy, Stuart MacGill and Colin Miller to record the first Ashes hat-trick by an Englishman for 100 years.

Sadly for Gough, it was insufficient to prevent England suffering a 98-run defeat as Australia wrapped up a 3-1 series win, leg-spinner MacGill exacting revenge with match figures of 12-107 at the venue whose initials he bears – SCG.

Inevitably, as England and Australia go head-to-head in the Sydney Test that starts tomorrow, Gough's tour de force will be fondly recalled by those of an English persuasion.

The feat took place on the opening day of the game and came during a crazy spell in which Australia lost five wickets to the final 15 balls, slipping from 319-5 to 322 all-out.

Mark Waugh's 16th Test hundred – allied to brother Steve's record ninth Test 90 – had put Australia in a commanding position after Australia captain Mark Taylor became only the fourth man after Yorkshire's Stanley Jackson (1905) and Australians Monty Noble (1909) and Lindsay Hassett (1953) to win all five tosses in an Ashes series.

The Waugh brothers put on 190 for the fourth-wicket at close to a run-a-minute after Australia lost Taylor, Michael Slater and Justin Langer to slip to 52-3.

Former Yorkshire batsman Darren Lehmann weighed in with 32 before the rot began when Mark Waugh was sixth out, caught behind off pace bowler Dean Headley.

Enter Gough . . .

From the fourth ball of the next over, Gough produced a lifting delivery just short of a length outside off-stump.

Healy failed to get on top of the bounce and edged behind to fellow wicket-keeper Warren Hegg.

Next ball, MacGill was beaten all ends up by a searing yorker that sent his middle-stump cart wheeling.

Gough then produced the hat-trick ball from heaven – a delivery that would have accounted for many top-order players – as Miller lost his off-stump to a full ball that swung viciously late.

"I was mobbed from all sides," recalled Gough. "Alex Tudor bit the back of my head by accident (yes, I know it seems ridiculous).

"When I started celebrating, I thought my wife, my mum and dad and family were part of the 43,000 crowd.

"I didn't realise until later that, trying to beat the traffic, the Gough party had slipped away to Coogee, the coastal resort where all of them were staying. They didn't see my hat-trick at all, but heard it on the radio travelling back to the hotel."

After Gough's heroics, England made 220, John Crawley top-scoring with 44 before becoming one of five victims for MacGill.

Five wickets from Peter Such and four from Headley removed Australia for 184 second time around, 123 of them scored by Slater, who, with 66.84 per cent of his side's runs, just failed to beat the record of Australia's Charles Bannerman for the highest percentage of runs in a completed Test innings.

For the record, Bannerman scored an unbeaten 165 out of 245 against England in the inaugural Test at Melbourne in 1877 (67.34 per cent ).

Left to score 287 to level the series, England's class of 1998-99 were ousted for 188 - Nasser Hussain top-scoring with 53 as MacGill returned 7-50.

Although Gough is invariably associated with his hat-trick, the man himself does not consider it the pinnacle of his Ashes career.

That came in the preceding Test at Melbourne, where England won one of the all-time great Tests by 12 runs.

Gough took five wickets in the first innings and picked up the last two wickets in the second innings to help England to a stunning victory.

Chasing just 175 to win, Australia – at one stage 103-2 – were undone by a career-best six-wicket haul from Headley and Gough's coup de grace.

Since Gough's feat at the SCG, only Australian pace bowler Peter Siddle has taken an Ashes hat-trick.

Siddle joined an exclusive club when he removed Alastair Cook, Matt Prior and Stuart Broad in the opening Test of the current series in Brisbane.

Siddle was widely reported to have captured only the ninth Ashes hat-trick but, in reality, claimed the eighth.

Frederick (The Demon) Spofforth took a hat-trick for Australia against England at Melbourne in January 1879 (the very first Test hat-trick), but the Ashes had not been born at that stage.