Peter Siddle celebrated his birthday with a stunning hat-trick to kick-start Australia's Ashes campaign at the Gabba and hand England a miserable opening day to the series.

Siddle, returning to Test cricket after a spell out with a stress fracture of the back, marked his 26th birthday in memorable fashion by taking the wickets of Alastair Cook, Matt Prior and Stuart Broad as England went from 197 for four to 197 for seven.

Ian Bell did his best to lift England to a competitive total with a classy 76, but the tourists were eventually dismissed for 260, with Siddle boasting figures of six for 54. The hosts' response began steadily as they finished the first day 25 without loss.

England's day had begun alarmingly when captain Andrew Strauss fell for a third-ball duck in the first over after choosing to bat first. But on a pitch tinged with green and playing a little slower than anticipated, Cook responded with a 127-ball half-century which contained just four fours, rarely excited but was a highly valuable contribution.

Strauss thought he saw a scoring opportunity off the third ball from Ben Hilfenhaus, only for a hint of movement back into him from an otherwise innocuous short ball to result in a cut straight into the hands of gully fielder Mike Hussey.

Number three Jonathan Trott (29) was to go straight after morning drinks, from the last ball of Shane Watson's first over, driving round a full-length delivery to be bowled off and middle stump and though Kevin Pietersen provided glimpses of his mercurial best, his 70-ball stay was not long enough.

The 30-year-old pushed out at an attempted drive on the up and being caught high at second slip for 43 by Ricky Ponting when late movement brought the edge and ended a stand of 76 at the start of a new spell from Siddle, while the Victorian also accounted for Paul Collingwood, who edged low to third slip after making just four.

All looked to be going well when Cook and Bell put on 72 for the fifth wicket and the balance of power was marginally with England until Siddle got one in the perfect spot to finally see off Cook, then clean-bowled Prior - attempting an ambitious drive first ball - and had Broad lbw with a yorker.

Bell reached a deserved half-century from 103 balls though Siddle continued his momentum with a straight one which Graeme Swann (10) tried to play around his front leg only to be trapped leg before.

The key scalp of Bell (76) came when he hit a Xavier Doherty delivery to deep cover for Watson to make the catch and the tourists were all out for 260 when the debutant followed Bell's dismissal by seeing off James Anderson (11). Watson (nine not out) and Simon Katich (15no) saw it through to the close with Australia 25 without loss heading into day two.