Australia v South Africa Tests
Sledging was worst I've copped: de Villiers
South Africa batsman recalls hostile 2014 series against Michael Clarke's Australians
17 October 2016, 04:15 PM AEST
Superstar batsman AB de Villiers says the last Test series South Africa played against Australia included the worst sledging he's witnessed.
The two sides fought out an epic three-match series in South Africa in February-March 2014, with Australia prevailing 2-1 to wrest the No.1 ICC ranking from the Proteas.
The ill-feeling in the series was epitomised by several instances, including a feud between then Australia captain Michael Clarke and South Africa firebrand Dale Steyn, and Faf du Plessis' description of the Australians in the field as being "like a pack of wild dogs" in the field, which was invariably followed by at least one visiting player 'barking' upon the batsman's dismissal.
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De Villiers said the sledging by the Australians in the series was "personal" and believes it is something "they regret".
"That was definitely the most abuse we've got on the cricket field," de Villiers told Fox Sports.
"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.
"Still, that was nowhere near what we received in 2014.
"Australia certainly made a conscious effort to be verbally over the top.
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"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."
Six months later, as South Africa's ODI tour of Australia in November 2014 approached, Steyn revealed he was still unhappy about a particular sledge he'd received from Clarke during the closing stages of that epic third Test in Cape Town, when the Australia skipper had stepped in to defend young quick James Pattinson, who was engaged in an exchange with the Proteas quick.
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).
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"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.
De Villiers is racing the clock to be fit for the final Test of this summer's three-match series after originally being ruled out for the tour with an elbow injury.
The first Test begins on Perth on November three, and is followed by matches in Hobart (November 12) and Adelaide (November 24).