The second part of Neil Manthorp's exclusive interview with South Africa's captain Graeme Smith

What are the biggest changes to your life since you became captain?
On the material side I've bought a house - that's a pretty significant change. But I've still got housemates. You need someone to look after the place, I'm never there. And personally the requests on my time can be daunting. My management group, Fordzone, field invites and requests for three functions a day, on average. I struggle to say no to anything so they do it for me, it would be crazy otherwise. I'm now able to focus on my cricket responsibilities because my diary is managed by professionals. I'm also aware that I have 14 other sets of emotions to be concerned about - I can't just think about myself, there is a squad that deserves my concern. But that is something I've always had and I welcome it.

Can a captain still have friends within his team, go out for a beer with them?
Yes - certainly. It's a question of balance. You can't just be an onfield captain, you learn so much about your team-mates by having a beer with them in the pub. The same goes for the opposition, too. And the players enjoy seeing the captain having a beer with them, so I definitely won't be changing any of that. Besides, I enjoy a beer!

Must a captain always be in the team, especially on tour?
The best interests of the team come first. If I wasn't pulling my weight then it would be better to step aside. I wouldn't avoid the issue if I was out of form, and I wouldn't pass the buck as far as the responsibility was concerned. I wouldn't force someone else to make the decision - I'd do it. But I'd also want to be in the front line, in the thick of it. I'd hate to duck the pressure. I wouldn't ever do that.

What's it been like captaining Shaun Pollock?
He's been absolutely brilliant. From what I know of Shaun he's been a different man since we changed over. He's far more relaxed and outgoing now, always down at dinner in the team hotel and smiling. We had a couple of long chats on tour in Bangladesh and I learned a lot from him. Before he seemed weighed down by everything.

Doesn't that concern you?
I know it can get to you, I really do. I can't pretend I know what it's like as national captain but I can imagine. I'm a different person to Shaun and we'll handle things differently. Our personalities are different - we deal with stressful situations in our own ways.

Are you prepared to compromise your privacy for the next ten years?
You have to - how can you not? You can't expect to have a private life - your private life is what happens in your own home.

Your phone has rung 14 times in the 35 minutes we've been talking. Is it always like that?
Yes [smiles]. You get used to it. You know, anyone who has ever dreamed of being a professional sportsman has also dreamed of being recognised in a restaurant and of being asked for an autograph in a nightclub. Anyone who tells you different is lying. Learning how to deal with those situations is part of the job, and the responsibility of playing for your country. Obviously you become more and more sceptical as the years go by, and I'm only 22, but I hope I still feel it's important to recognise people in ten years' time. I hope I never, ever ignore genuine supporters.

Have you ever been made really, really cross? Really angry?
No, no. Not that I'd ever show on the outside. Oh, well, er ... I'm a liar. Just once, and it happened last week. Some guy phoned me at 3.30am - I don't know where he got my number - and gave me huge flak about the team. He attacked me, personal and abusive. Underworked and overpaid, with lots of swear words. And I responded.

What did you say?
I said, "You're probably sitting in some sweaty nightclub with a tenth beer in your left hand, a smoke in your right hand and your stomach hanging all over your belt. And you're calling me at 3.30am to abuse me about a group of professional sportsmen?"

Does the Aussie sledging ever border on the childish/unnecessary/personal?
At times, yes. But they are also very clinical with it and it can be very effective. They are very practised at it and they all know what they're doing. They put a bit of thought into it, it's not just verbal bombing. They are a very professional side and that is part of their game plan. But at times it pushes the limits of what's acceptable.

Is there a danger of you, or your team, becoming obsessed with the 'dangers' of the tabloid media in England?
Yes, that's a possibility. Mark Boucher told me how they got stitched up the very first night they arrived in England for the '98 tour. Apparently they got photographed with some semi-naked girl - Jacques and Lance were there, too, but only Bouch appeared in the papers the next day which caused some embarrassment ... but it gave the rest of the boys something to laugh about. We must be aware of the dangers without allowing them to affect our day-to-day lives. But we definitely must not try and hide away and avoid the difficult questions.

Isn't Alec Stewart a bit old for international cricket?
Oh very funny, very funny.

No seriously, he's 40 years old.
If I say a word about him he'll score five centuries against us in the Test series! Hmm. If he's playing well enough then he's young enough. I'm sure some of the young keepers in England have felt a bit frustrated over the years, but the selectors have given Foster and Read a chance and they keep going back to Alec. So maybe he really is the best. He seems very fit and strong. I don't know him but he's certainly not a favourite of many of our team. Maybe that's why they're keeping him going. The only time I'd ever bring age into a selection equation is when you have two players of equal ability and there is a large gap in their ages. You'd want to think of the future. But if you're the best you must play.

Who is under more pressure, you or Nasser Hussain?
I'm a young captain - frequently accused of being too young - with very little international experience and very little experience of England, so of course I'm under pressure. But so is Nasser, and he's right at the other end of the experience scale. He's under just as much pressure, retiring from one-day cricket, questions about his commitment. Captains are under pressure, full stop.

Any previous experience of England?
I spent two months with Hampshire when Jimmy Cook was there, playing for the 2nd XI and seeing the country. I played at The Oval and otherwise spent lots of time driving around, sitting in traffic actually. I was 18 years old, driving a car about the same age with brakes even older. Happy days. But no, I wouldn't say I had too much experience of England that might stand me in good stead during a series of five Test matches. But we'll have good people around us.

Why is it so difficult to win in England?
From South Africa's point of view I think it has a lot to do with the length of the tour. Looking at the stats from 1994 and '98 we've won early on and then faded as the weeks went by. There's a lot of cricket, a lot of time spent in each others' pockets. People become physically and mentally tired - perhaps motivation became affected. I do think mental preparation is very important for an England tour.

How do you feel when people talk about South Africa's legacy of match-fixing since 2000?
Really, really pissed off. Really angry. I can't stand it. It irritates me. We'll turn it around - I know we'll turn it around. I'm so frustrated that people can call us cheats in the middle of a Test match, that people have that image of us. It doesn't just hurt me, it hurts every single member of the current squad and they are determined to change that image, not for themselves but for every member of the public who felt embarrassed, angry or ashamed when it happened. I promise you, we want to make all South Africans proud of their cricket team. I promise you that.