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Steve Smith has revealed England’s decision to make Stuart Broad a peripheral part of their Ashes campaign has raised eyebrows in the Australia camp.
Broad was surprisingly overlooked for the series opener at The Gabba and again in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, getting his only chance so far on a flat deck in the day/night second Test.
Now, with the series settled 3-0 in the home side’s favour, the 35-year-old has bowled just 36 overs – just four more than Joe Root – and is shaping to be little more than a footnote in his eighth Ashes campaign.
He expressed his own disappointment in a weekend newspaper column and Australia vice-captain Smith admitted he expected to see more of his old adversary.
“We have been surprised, there has probably been two wickets that would have suited him well (in the first and third Tests),” he said.
“He bowled well in Adelaide and he’s always been a good contest for me. He’s got me out a few times, I’ve scored runs off him. I think it’s been a decent battle.
“Him and Jimmy (Anderson) together have been world-class performers for a long time. Maybe we’ll see them together this week.”
England could well go back to Broad, their third highest wicket-taker in Tests against Australia with 120 in 33 Tests, in Sydney on Wednesday.
If they do, he will find Smith in hungry mood as he eyes his first century since the corresponding fixture against India at the SCG a year ago.
Having averaged three figures in each of the last two Ashes series, Smith is certainly due.
“I always love playing here, it’s home for me,” he said,
“Hopefully I can be among the runs this week. It’s been a little while since I’ve scored a hundred. I think we’ve played on some pretty bowler-friendly wickets in the first three Tests and it’s been tough to get rhythm.
“But hopefully this week I can spend a lot of time out there, get a big one and help us continue to have success.”