Sandpaper under the bridge: Elgar insists there's no 'bad blood' with Warner and Smith

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  • Proteas skipper Dean Elgar says there's no bad blood between he and his troops and the Aussie ball-tampering protagonists David Warner and Steve Smith.
  • He insists there's a healthy respect between two competitive nations.
  • Despite wounds from the fraught 2018 series being reopened, Elgar says all those memories are now in the past.

Proteas Test skipper Dean Elgar insists there will be no bad blood when his troops come up against David Warner and Steve Smith, the Australian duo infamously handed one-year suspensions each for their roles in "Sandpapergate" in 2018's fraught series between the two sides.

While the South Africans have come up against the two batting stars again in ODIs subsequently, the three-match series starting on December 17 in Brisbane will represent a reunion of sorts in the red-ball format.

Wounds from the battle four years ago - where Warner and Smith were accused of masterminding ball-tampering during the third Test at Newlands - were recently re-opened after former captains Faf du Plessis and Tim Paine both wrote accusatory chapters on their opponents.

But Elgar, perhaps conscious too that his two opponents remain brilliant players, is not going to make a fuss about things.

READ | Elgar leaves little room for doubt in post-Boucher era: This is HIS Proteas Test side

"There's definitely not any bad blood between us. What's in the past is in the past," he said on Monday as the Proteas commenced their preparations Down Under.

"I don't hold any grudges whatsoever. Both Smith and Warner have played against [us] for a decade."

That sentiment, naturally, extends to the remote possibility that Smith, re-installed as vice-captain, could be the top dog again should Pat Cummins not recover from a thigh strain.

"That's their issue to deal with. I only heard this morning Pat has a niggle. We can't control their stuff, I can only focus on in-house stuff. The game I'm sure will be played in a certain way that respects Test cricket," said Elgar.

And a balanced dose of respect is really the only thing that both teams arguably will strive for, even though there can be no doubt the cricket will still be hard.

"It was a tough time for all of us [in 2018], even though we weren't the guys who bore the brunt of the scrutiny. Nonetheless, we were part of that and it was obviously a sad event," said Elgar.

"I personally don't hold any animosity towards the players that were involved or Australian cricket in general. The scenes were unfortunate, but that period has elapsed and we've moved forward as a group.

"I wish things could've been different, the history is so rich when it comes to Tests. The competitive nature is distinct, we both want to go out and win games of cricket our country.

"I'm pretty sure on the field there will always be a bit of spice. The competition has always been rich and we have a deep respect for Australian cricket. Hopefully it's a good spectacle."

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