Australia v South Africa, 2nd Test December 25, 2005

'It bothers Warne that he's not captain'

Cricinfo staff

Smith reckons that Warne yearns for Ponting's job © Getty Images

The war of words between the South African and Australian teams has showed no sign of stopping, with Graeme Smith saying Shane Warne wants the Australian captaincy. In an interview with Beeld, the Afrikaans daily, Smith said Warne was finding it hard to accept Ricky Ponting as captain and team leader.

Warne has said Smith's captaincy lacks imagination or innovation, but Smith said the comments were "laughable". "The conclusion that we have come to as a team is that it bothers Warne tremendously that he is not the Australian captain," Smith told the paper. "I sincerely believe that is the one yearning desire that is still there in his cricket career. He would give his all to become Australian captain, but Ponting was appointed above him and he can just not handle that."

Smith said Warne's antics on the field merely increased the pressure on Ponting, who is currently under fire after South Africa's final-day escape in the first Test. "It is Warne who regularly does the moves with field positions and he constantly tries to prescribe to Ponting what to do," Smith said. "He is a real old showman who wants the attention to be focused on him all the time."

Smith said Warne's attention-seeking antics could be symptomatic of deeper problems within the Australian team. "There is a lot of pressure on them," he said. "They have been an established team winning everything for so long that people cannot accept that things are not going so well any longer."