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Warne is a frustrated captain: Smith

By Greg Buckle 25/12/2005 06:49:56 PM Comments (0)

South African captain Graeme Smith has accused Shane Warne of trying to "take over" from Australian skipper Ricky Ponting when things get tough and says Warne openly doubts some of Ponting's tactics.

Smith launched a stinging attack on Warne, saying it was a huge disappointment for the former Australian vice-captain that he never made the next step to be Test skipper.

"I think more than anything else, he's probably disappointed with the fact that he has never captained Australia," Smith said on the eve of the second Test at the MCG.

"We've certainly noticed the pressure he puts Ricky under out in the field. Especially when things get tough, he takes over and he puts them under a lot of pressure.

"There's a lot of pressure with different field placings.

"He puts Ricky under a lot of pressure with decision-making. He's doubted his decisions a few times.

"Because Shane is offering so much advice, it's hard to kind of sift through what is good and what is not good at times.

"We noticed it during the Ashes series also and it's certainly something we picked up in the first Test match."

Ponting was forced to defend his captaincy after losing the Ashes series 2-1. He often consulted Warne on the field regarding tactical decisions, leading to criticism that Ponting needed to be more assertive.

"Warnie is certainly a very focal guy in their team. He's a big name, a big cricketer and a big performer for them," Smith said.

"He is a big, innovative guy. He's got a lot of things going through his brain.

"But he can put his captain under a lot of pressure."

Smith laughed off Warne's assertion that his own captaincy lacks imagination after the tourists made no attempt to chase down a world record target of 491 runs in four sessions in the first Test in Perth.

Warne wrote in a Brisbane Courier-Mail newspaper column on Saturday: "It (Perth) was pretty hard work for bowlers but there is not a lot of imagination with their captaincy.

"It's been a general trait of all (South Africa) captains over the years, especially Smith. That's the way they play," Warne wrote.

"They set normal fields and once the ball gets older they have a ring field and just bowl line and length."

Warne was stripped of the Test vice-captaincy in 2000 after a phone sex scandal with a British nurse.

Rated by Wisden magazine as one of the five cricketers of the 20th century, the 36-year-old leg-spinner has been a popular captain for Victoria, briefly for Australia's one-day side (with 10 wins from 11 games) and also for English county team Hampshire.

Smith said Australia's Steve Waugh, who retired in January 2004, was the type of captain who led from the front and told his players: "Do it my way."

"Ricky seems to be more of a nice team environment, with everyone contributing," Smith said.

"Everyone is going to do it their way. Ricky is trying to hard to find his own way of captaining.

"When he took over (last year), his side was very powerful and they were winning a lot.

"Now that he has gone through a few tough patches, he will probably start working out how he wants his team to be."

Smith also said Warne's on-field barbs are not reaching their mark.

"If Warnie may have been a little bit more subtle it might have had more effect on the guys," Smith said.

"But he's been really loud and proud throughout the series. The guys have started to take a laugh at him here and there."

Smith says the tourists will go into the second Test in a confident mood after their match-saving effort in Perth.

But Australian paceman Glenn McGrath feels Australia still has a mental edge, saying the flat WACA wicket meant the tourists could take no risks and play for a draw.

"Definitely. There was only one team that was going to win that match over in Perth," McGrath said.

"It will be interesting to see how things go out here on a wicket that may offer a little bit more to the bowlers.

"Hopefully our batsmen can do the job, set it up for us again and this time we'll knock them over."

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