Clarke-Steyn set for awkward standoff

South Africa skipper AB de Villiers says he doesn’t care if Michael Clarke doesn’t offer an apology to Dale Steyn this summer, claiming his star paceman has finally moved on from his spat with the Australian captain.

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Steyn was left deeply offended after he was reportedly labelled a cheat by Clarke during the climax of a tense Test series between the two countries earlier this year.

Clarke appeared to say sorry to Steyn straight after the match, and later made a public apology where he admitted he was out of line.

But the issue was reignited two months ago when Steyn revealed he was still yet to forgive Clarke.

Steyn said he wanted to receive a personal apology at some point during his team’s upcoming five-match one-day series in Australia, but Clarke feels he has already fulfilled his side of the bargain.

The standoff makes for an intriguing side plot heading into Friday’s one-day clash between the two sides at the WACA Ground.

Clarke tried his best to play down the spat on Thursday, claiming the media had blown the issue out of proportion.

“I think it’s sold enough papers over the last couple of weeks. I think the media have used it really well,” Clarke said.

“I think that’s enough. I think we can now focus on what’s important – playing cricket.”

De Villiers agreed with Clarke in that respect, but hinted that the issue wasn’t completely resolved.

“Whether Clarkey wants to apologise or not, it’s up to him,” de Villiers said.

“It (the on-field sledge) is in a way something that Dale felt was unnecessary at the time.

“I have no idea what Michael feels, even though he’s apologised at times and then come out quite hard at times.

“I don’t really know where he stands, and don’t really care for that matter.”

Steve Smith was the surprise omission when Clarke unveiled his squad for Friday’s series opener, with the all-rounder failing to make the final XI despite his recent hot form.

Clarke and Smith have had some interesting interactions of late, the captain chastising him for supposedly being friendly to Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali during the second Test, Smith responding by saying he was actually sledging him.

Clarke also described batting Smith at Test No.3 as “a fantasy” and went on to use the relatively inexperienced Alex Doolan and Glenn Maxwell in the role in Pakistan without success.

Paceman Kane Richardson was also left out, meaning Nathan Coulter-Nile will get a chance to impress on his home deck.

Both Australia and South Africa will use the series as key preparation for the World Cup, which is now just three months away.

The pace showdown between Australian Mitchell Johnson and Proteas tearaway Steyn shapes as one of the highlights on a bouncy WACA deck.

De Villiers said Steyn was fired up and ready to let it rip.

But he’s still tossing up whether to play spinner Imran Tahir on a wicket that is unlikely to offer much turn.

AUSTRALIA V SOUTH AFRICA HISTORY

*Australia: 42, South Africa: 38, Tied: 3

*In Australia: Australia: 14, South Africa: 16, Tied: 1

Australia: Michael Clarke (capt), George Bailey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Shane Watson.

South Africa (from): AB de Villiers (capt), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, David Miller, Ryan McLaren, Kyle Abbott, Dale Steyn, Wayne Parnell, Morne Morkel, Robin Peterson, Imran Tahir, Farhaan Behardien, Marchant de Lange, Rilee Rossouw, Vernon Philander.