9 Dec 2008

Smith says Aussies will maintain the chat

6:28 am on 9 December 2008

South Africa's cricket captain Graeme Smith is expecting a verbal barrage from Australia again on this tour but he says it just won't be the same without Shane Warne.

The former world record-holder, who retired in 2007, mesmerised the Proteas, taking 130 wickets from 24 Tests.

Smith developed a strong friendship with the leg-spinner when playing together in the Indian Premier League this year.

He says Warne's ability to get into an opponent's head will be tough for Ricky Ponting's side to replace.

Smith won't say the game's top-ranked side is ready to be taken down after the retirements of star players such as Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist.

The second-ranked South Africans have never won a Test series in Australia, but with a record of eight wins in their past nine series they are feeling relaxed about their chances.

Their match against West Australia starts on Thursday and the first tests begins in Perth on December 17.