Sandpapergate ‘won’t tarnish their legacy’
DAVID Warner and Steve Smith will emerge from the shadow of the ball-tampering scandal to be remembered by their on-field feats, according to South Africa's captain Faf du Plessis.
Australia's clash with South Africa on Saturday night marks Warner and Smith's first against the Proteas since the events of Cape Town last year.
Since then, much has changed in Australian cricket and through the group stage of the World Cup.
Smith and Warner have also seemingly re-found their touch.
Warner is among the tournament's top run-scorers, while Smith has done the job in the middle order.
The reception hasn't always been positive though. The pair were keen to put crowd reactions aside but there were jeers in the opening rounds and last week at Lord's.
England captain Eoin Morgan even said last month that fans did not have to accept the pair back into the game just because their bans were up.
But Du Plessis did not believe the pair would be remembered for the dramas of Cape Town.
"I don't look at it like that," Du Plessis said.
"Whether the game will remember them for that? I don't think so.
"Their records and their performances will speak much louder than one incident as a once-off.
"If you can look at them now you can see as a team, obviously, the Australian culture looks like it's really good, so they have learnt from that.
"All of us make mistakes. It is about how you learn and how you move forward."
South Africa vowed not to make the sandpaper plot a topic for sledging in Saturday's match at Old Trafford.
But the ball-tampering scandal was just the climax of a dramatic series that included several incidents both on and off the field.
Kagiso Rabada was charged, banned and let off on appeal for bumping Steve Smith after taking a wicket in the second Test of the series.
Du Plessis himself was involved in breaking up a stairwell altercation between Quinton de Kock and David Warner in Durban.
Du Plessis, however, said that topic had not been touched on ahead of the World Cup clash, other than to say he should wear more than a towel next time a situation arose.
"It was quite a funny -- it was serious but it was funny watching that video," Du Plessis said.
"So that's probably something we will be remembered for, the stairwell, but no, certainly not.
"We saw it as a very, after that, a very, very light-hearted thing."