‘We have been in all probability at all-time low’ after Sandpapergate however that is now a distant reminiscence, says Khawaja

Opener Usman Khawaja believes time has healed the injuries of the ball-tampering saga forward of Australia’s first Check in opposition to South Africa for the reason that scandal that rocked cricket.

The left-hander, who performed within the notorious 2018 Cape City match, mentioned the Australia set-up had modified dramatically within the virtually 5 years since.

Khawaja is assured the three-match collection, which begins on the Gabba on Saturday, might be performed in higher spirit than that spiteful contest in South Africa.

However the 35-year-old declared sandpaper-gate had not been mentioned within the Australia camp within the lead-up to the eagerly anticipated showdown.

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“It actually hasn’t been and I’m being real,” Khawaja mentioned on Thursday. “It’s as a result of time heals all wounds. The blokes have come so removed from there, each as particular person gamers, but additionally as a staff.

“Everybody’s bought so many various issues occurring of their life from the place they have been 4 years in the past. That truly gave guys a number of perspective. 

Usman Khawaja plays a pull shot

(Picture by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Photos)

“Australian cricket, each as an entire and as particular person as gamers, we have been in all probability at all-time low proper there.”

Khawaja remained within the Check staff throughout Steve Smith and David Warner’s 12-month bans from cricket however was dropped throughout the 2019 Ashes.

The Queensland captain spent greater than two years on the outer earlier than his recall to the staff for January’s SCG Check in opposition to England.

Khawaja has as soon as once more solidified his spot with a career-best 2022, scoring 1066 runs at 82, together with 4 centuries.

“It offers you a number of time to mirror and look again on issues,” he mentioned. “The blokes have genuinely realized loads from that (Cape City) incident. There’s been a number of rising up and there’s been a number of maturity. 

“I in all probability bought to see it higher than most as a result of I used to be within the staff, then I went away after which I got here again in, so it’s been a pleasant change.

“Being a part of that tour, I personally know we’re a really completely different Australian cricket staff from what we have been again then.”

Australian teammate Mitchell Starc echoed Khawaja’s sentiments.

“I believe each groups have in all probability advanced since (2018),” the quick bowler mentioned.

“It’s been an evolution of our group throughout the codecs. 

“We’re very glad, chilled, relaxed, (in an) satisfying setting and hopefully it’s going to point out in our cricket and end in a constructive efficiency in these three Exams.”

Kagiso Rabada

(Picture by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Photos/Getty Photos)

South Africa’s fearsome tempo battery might be a fast step up for Australia’s batters who dined out on West Indies throughout the latest thrashings in Perth and Adelaide.

Kagiso Rabada, who dominated Australia in 2018 with 23 wickets, will lead the assault with Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje and Marco Jansen additionally in South Africa’s fast-bowling arsenal.

Khawaja is prepared for the problem on the historically quick and bouncy Gabba pitch.

“You by no means take Check cricket without any consideration, whether or not you might be enjoying West Indies, Zimbabwe, South Africa, England – you need to respect whoever you might be enjoying,” he mentioned.

“I respect any opposition, particularly when you need to face the brand new ball, it doesn’t take a lot.

“You’re at all times cautious of (Rabada). 

“I’ve scored runs in opposition to him however no straightforward Check runs, they’re by no means straightforward in opposition to KG (Rabada).”