Smith bemused by KP saga
Graeme Smith has underlined South Africa's status in the Kevin Pietersen saga as bemused, and increasingly unwilling, bystanders.
Smith takes umbrage with the depiction of his tourists as somehow compliant in the escalation of Pietersen's alienation from the England team - specifically the 'leaking' of text messages the South Africa-born batsman sent to opposition players during the drawn Headingley Test.
Those communications, described subsequently by South Africa management as "banter", led directly to Pietersen being left out of the crucial third Test at Lord's which starts on Thursday.
It is there that Pietersen's absence may be keenly felt by England, in a match they must win to salvage their world number one position.
By contrast, it is to the obvious advantage of the tourists as they scent series victory and eye England's table-topping perch in the International Cricket Council Test rankings.
Their captain, however, gives no credence to the suggestion South Africa deliberately put Pietersen's text messages in the public domain or sowed seeds of doubt about the possibility they contained derogatory remarks about his own team-mates.
"I find it quite amazing that it's still going on and that it has reached this point," said Smith.
"In our dressing room, it's something that's hardly been discussed - except the amount of time and coverage that it's getting.
"But obviously Kevin feels that he's done something wrong and he has apologised for that.
"That's to get back into the England set-up and to sort out relationships - that's obviously the process he needs to take.
"From our perspective it's just been so overboard really. I can't believe it's still carrying on."
Smith insists, to the best of his knowledge, there is nothing in the texts to either embarrass Pietersen or upset his England colleagues.
"I have personally seen nothing," he said.
"I think the notion that we have tried to 'nail' Kevin or put things out in the media is just ridiculous.
"I have never heard such a load of rubbish.
"For us to be dragged into this has been disappointing. But obviously it's a big story, and we have just got to get on with it now and try and focus on the cricket.
"I am amazed how the story got out in the first place. That's the most amazing thing for me.
"I heard [former England captain] Mike Atherton wrote a column about it saying we did it on purpose. That's the biggest load of rubbish I have heard - I can't believe it has got to that point."
Smith, like his opposite number Andrew Strauss, will reach a famous milestone on Thursday.
While Strauss becomes the ninth Englishman to reach 100 Tests, Smith will go past Australia's Allan Border when he leads his team for the 94th time - the most by any captain in cricket history.
He acknowledges the hosts will doubtless miss Pietersen, who proved his talents again with a memorable hundred in Leeds, but points out too that South Africa must respect his replacement Jonny Bairstow.
"He [Pietersen] is obviously a world-class cricketer, and for me to say they're not going to miss him is wrong," added the left-hander.
"His record speaks for itself - the way he plays the game, the nature of what he offers England as a player - they will miss that.
"But there is a talent pool in England cricket that we need to respect, Jonny Bairstow and the guys who have been given the opportunity.
"England have a large base of confidence through the success they have had over a period of time - and for us to sit back and take things for granted now is not the way we have prepared for this tour, not the way we have trained and not what we have come here to achieve.
"We have come to play cricket; we wanted to be the best cricket team; we want to play better cricket than England - that's what we came here to do."