AB de Villiers has revealed that Australia’s tour to South Africa in 2014 produced the worst sledging he’s ever heard.
The Proteas skipper isn’t expected to play a part in the three-match Test series Down Under next month, with nothing more than wishful thinking keeping his chances of an appearance in the third Test going. As the side gear up without him, he turned the spotlight on the psychological battles that inevitably takes place when any side face the Australians.
Speaking to Fox Sports, De Villiers recalled the series from two years ago, when his batsmen were subjected to numerous verbals that were ‘over the top’.
‘When we play England, it’s pretty verbal. I also remember touring Australia in 2006 as a youngster, with the likes of Warne and McGrath and Gilly behind the stumps,’ said De Villiers.
‘Still, that was nowhere near what we received in 2014. Australia certainly made a conscious effort to be verbally over the top.
‘Maybe they felt they could get under us if they really came out and got personal with some of us. I felt it was unnecessary.
‘Some of the Australian players came up and apologised and felt that it was a little bit over the top … certainly at times they did go over the top and I think they regret that in some way.’
Dale Steyn and Michael Clarke clashed repeatedly back then, and Faf du Plessis called the Aussies a ‘pack of wild dogs’ over their sledging, which resorted to some of the Australians literally barking when the batsmen were out.
Although it’s never been revealed what Clarke said to Steyn in 2014, Clarke admitted in a later press conference that he’d overstepped the mark, and apologised to Steyn, however the South African wasn’t satisfied.
‘I haven’t really spoken to him much since then to be honest,’ Steyn said in September 2014.
‘I don’t take many things personally, but what he did say to me I did take personally. I know he apologised in the media and I should be playing this down.
‘But the day he comes and shakes my hand and says, “I really mean what I said” and behaves like the way he should, maybe then I will (forgive him).
‘But for right now, he’s not here so I’ll wait until I get to Australia.
Two months later, Steyn and Clarke faced each other for the final time in international cricket, during an ODI in Perth, and the paceman had the batsman caught behind for 11.
Du Plessis, who will captain the side in De Villiers place as he has done all summer so far, said this week that he was looking forward to facing a less verbally aggressive set of Australia players.
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