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Dean Elgar, Pat Cummins confident their sides have moved on from Newlands 2018

"There are no grudges" as Australia and South Africa prepare for first Test face-off since sandpaper saga

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
16-Dec-2022
Dean Elgar on the ball-tampering case: "We haven't spoken about it once. It's history for us"  •  Getty Images

Dean Elgar on the ball-tampering case: "We haven't spoken about it once. It's history for us"  •  Getty Images

Dean Elgar believes there could be moments where the contest between Australia and South Africa over the next three weeks becomes "feisty" but both he and his opposite number Pat Cummins are confident it won't come near the levels of the ugly 2018 series.
Although the two sides have met in ODIs and T20Is since that controversial encounter more than four years ago, this is the first Test match battle - a format of the game that allows contests, both good and bad, more time to build and stew. This series will also have a significant bearing on who reaches the World Test Championship final in June.
Both captains and their teams have insisted in the build-up that in the changing rooms 2018 has not warranted a mention, but its fallout lives on, particularly in Australia with David Warner's recent leadership ban saga bringing it back to the forefront over the last week and also in the recent books published by Tim Paine and Faf du Plessis.
"There will be moments, no doubt, where there will be a few feisty encounters but hopefully it doesn't reach the stage that we experienced in 2018," Elgar said. "What's happened in the past happened. There are no grudges. We know they want to win and we want to win. There will always be a moment where egos and the heat of the moment gets to the guys but think it will be better controlled this time.
"If they've got added issues with regards to [what happened] then that's their thing, but with regards my team we haven't spoken about it once. It's history for us."
"We've all moved on. I don't think we're probably as abrasive as we've been in the past. It's working for us."
Australia captain Pat Cummins
Cummins, who was part of the 2018 bowling unit and has played through Australia's rebuilding and is now leading the team, followed a similar theme. There has been less turnover in their side meaning that along with him, five other players remain from Cape Town: Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon. Josh Hazlewood would also have been here but for injury.
"We've all moved on," Cummins said. "I don't think we're probably as abrasive as we've been in the past. It's working for us. How we are off the field is pretty similar to what we play on the field I think - calm, very chill, just enjoying it out there, really competitive. And we've done that really well over the last 12 months."
Speaking on Thursday, Khawaja provided a perspective of someone who was in the team at Newlands, then spent time out of the side, before his recall earlier this year.
"Honestly [it] hasn't been [discussed] and I'm being genuine," he said. "It's because time heals all wounds. We've just come so far from there that we've got a bigger picture. I think that actually gave guys a lot of perspective. Australian cricket, both as a whole and as individual as players we were probably at rock bottom right there too.
"It gives you a lot of time to reflect and look back on things. I genuinely look and I see where the guys were four years ago to where they are now. There's been a lot of growing up and there's been a lot of maturity. I probably got to see it better than most because I was in the team, then I went away and then I came back in so it's been a nice change."
No one is willing to say what it would take for the good behaviour code to be broken; for their part South Africa, who have won their last three series in Australia, have intimated they would need to be provoked to respond - "it doesn't take much for our guys to step up when needs be," coach Malibongwe Maketa said - while Cummins insisted Australia would not be goaded.
"We're really strong on who we are as a team, how we want to go about it," he said. "The last 12 months have been a great example on that. We're pretty firm on how we want to act and conduct ourselves. Whatever gets thrown at us, won't change that."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo