Steve Smith: Stuart Broad's lack of action in The Ashes has surprised Australia

Overlooked for the opener at The Gabba and the Boxing Day Test, Stuart Broad has been reduced to a part-time role with England at The Ashes.

Stuart Broad has only been fielded for one Test so far this Ashes series, and it's a decision that has raised eyebrows in the Australia camp according to Steve Smith.

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.

The decision to leave him out of two Tests baffled many, including Australia's vice-captain Smith, who expected to see more of his old foe.

Steve Smith surprised by Stuart Broad’s lack of action in Ashes series

"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."

Now 3-0 down, England have nothing to lose and could well go back to Broad for the fourth Test in Sydney on Wednesday.

Broad is England's third highest wicket-taker in Tests against Australia with 120 in 33 Tests, and he'll be keen to deny Smith his first century since the corresponding fixture against India at the SCG a year ago.

It's certainly a ground that holds special value for Smith, and he's looking forward to returning this week.

"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."

READ MORE: Ben Stokes has 'never had an ambition to be a captain' as he denies reports of replacing Joe Root