Pietersen raises attack on ‘s***hole’ Brisbane
IT was Steve Smith's day at the Gabba on Saturday as the Australian skipper revived the home side's chances in the first Test with a spirited century.
Two wickets from Josh Hazlewood before stumps left the hosts with a slight advantage as England held a narrow lead. Here are all the big talking points from day three at the Gabba.
KP WHACKS BRISBANE, AGAIN
Kevin Pietersen delivered a blunt assessment of Brisbane prior to the first Test when he emphatically described it as a "s***hole."
He continued the assault from the Channel Nine commentary box on day three with a little egging on by mischievous Queenslander Ian Healy.
Healy: Brisbane, what do you reckon?
KP: Absolutely beautiful. So much to do in Brisbane. Sit in your hotel room ... watch TV. What a place. What a place. Seen a few aeroplanes flying over the ground. I tell you what, I wouldn't mind being on one of them.
Healy: Stop it mate. You made it hard enough for yourself. Stop it right now.
KP: I'm only joking, ladies and gentlemen, I'm only joking.
ROOT RATTLED BY STARC STRIKE
English faced a testing period before stumps as the Aussies quicks searched for quick wickets - and Joe Root found himself on the wrong end of a Mitchell Starc bouncer.
The English skipper took his eyes off a rising delivery that crashed into his helmet and dislodged part of his guard.
Root was assessed by a doctor and changed his helmet but there was never any doubt about his intention to continue batting.
Starc welcomed the show of courage with another testing short ball.
GLENN MAXWELL STORMS INTO CONTENTION
As a plethora of Australian batsmen struggled to put runs on the board against the English attack, Glenn Maxwell was smashing the ball all over the park.
Maxwell annihilated Tasmania in the Sheffield Shield to the tune of 278 runs off only 318 balls.
After the first innings failures of Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja and Peter Handscomb, Maxwell is in the mix for a berth in the Test team at some point in the series.
Speculation now begins as to who could or will be dropped to fit Maxwell into the side.
'ASTONISHING' TACTICS FAIL TO DERAIL SMITH
Joe Root caught the eye with some interesting field placings in this innings but he went next level when Steve Smith became the only recognised batsman left to remove in Australia's first innings.
As paceman Chris Woakes sent down a barrage of short deliveries, Root pushed most of his field out to the boundary to starve the Aussie star.
When Smith looked to play one bouncer over the top of slips, the English captain immediately installed a third man. The message was clear: We're not letting you score.
"If people say, 'What are the English doing? How is he meant to play cricket, play properly?' (They need to understand) this is good tactics because they know how good Steve Smith is," Channel Nine's Shane Warne noted. "They know how important he is and how important a lead will be in this first Test match. They have come up with a plan here to stop him. It's very hard to score. So now it's a real patience game."
Mark Nicholas questioned how long England could persist with the ploy. "I don't know how long England will want to continue that tactic of banging the ball in the middle of the surface," he said. "One thing, it gets pretty tiring and for another, if the batsman is just going to get out of the way of the ball it becomes a stalemate."
But former Aussie skipper Michael Clarke thought it was a bold move. "I actually don't mind it," Clarke said. "I think it's been a good ploy by England and it's something different. To Steve Smith a lot of teams have tried to bowl at the stumps, one metre outside off stump. I don't recall somebody spending time on the short ball peppering him with bouncers. He's played it well, handled it well. He's had one that jumped a bit. At the moment if you get Steve Smith out you get Australia out."
The tactic didn't result in Smith's wicket but it certainly slowed his run rate. His 141 not out came from 326 deliveries, the slowest Ashes innings since 1993.