Spin legend Shane Warne feels former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting was motivated by "jealousy" when he criticised his successor Michael Clarke in his autobiography. In a stream of opinions ahead of the Ashes, Warne also criticised Alastair Cook and said the England skipper needs to be more "imaginative" to win the prestigious series starting later this month.
Ponting wrote in his book 'At the Close of Play' that he was disappointed Clarke did not contribute more when he was vice-captain, and suggested he didn't buy into the dressing room culture.
However, Warne defended his "best friend" Clarke during his conversation with the English journalists to promote Sky Sports' Ashes coverage.
"I've got nothing mean to say, or a bad word about Ricky. I know he beats himself up mercilessly about being the only captain ever in Australian history to lose three Ashes series," Warne said.
"And I know he regrets and beats himself up about the fact that he – like Nasser Hussain – is the brunt of jokes whenever someone puts the opposition in, after that horrific decision at Edgbaston in 2005.
"So I don't particularly want to be mean about Ricky because he's a good guy and tried to do the best he could. But bringing up the stuff about Pup [Clarke], maybe it was a bit of jealousy because Pup was batting so well and Ricky was at the end of his career, not really making so many runs and just hanging in there the last few years," he added.
Warne said Ponting's decision to write about what goes on in the dressing room is "pretty ordinary" and his actions did not compare favourably with those of Allan Border and Mark Taylor, the "two best captains" he had played under.
"The best captains I played under – Mark Taylor, Allan Border – it stayed in the dressing room. No one finds out about it. That's how it should be. So to air all this in a book is pretty ordinary," he said.
Talking about England leader Alastair Cook, Warne said: "Cook can be negative, boring, not very imaginative -- and still win and be pretty happy.
"Cook needs to be more imaginative. If Australia play well, and Cook continues to captain the way he does, I think he will lose the series. I don't think he can captain like that. I am not trying to trash-talk anyone, I tell it how I see it," Warne said.
"Michael Clarke, to me, is the best captain in the world at the moment. He's got a lot of imagination, the fields he comes up with Jonathan Trott or Cook. Cook would never have a leg-slip, bat-pad or leg-gully. He's not proactive. He's not aggressive," he added.
Talking about England's batting, Warne said young opener Joe Root could be "crucified " by Australia's attack in the Australian bouncier conditions and suggested opening with Michael Carberry instead.
"Root played well at Lord's but I don't think he is an opener because of his technique. Australia found him out and especially in Australian conditions he would get found out more," Warne said.
"You cannot hang back and get stuck on the crease in Australia because of the pace of the wickets ... It could be crucifying to have him facing Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle and Mitchell Johnson on fast, bouncy pitches," he added.