Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin have called on Australia to avoid a repeat of their antagonistic approach in the 2014 Test series against South Africa.

Clarke and Haddin were part of the Australian XI that defeated the Proteas in an epic three-Test series two years ago.

The Cape Town series decider featured no shortage of sledging and heated moments.

Proteas skipper AB de Villiers, who will miss the first Test that starts on Thursday in Perth because of an elbow injury, suggested it was the worst sledging he'd ever copped on a cricket field.

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Spearhead Dale Steyn is yet to forgive Clarke for something he muttered late on day five.

The hosts were shocked by Australia's "personal abuse" - as de Villiers called it. They refused to share a customary beer in the changerooms after the third Test.

"You need to do what's comfortable to you ... if it doesn't suit your personality then I wouldn't try to be someone I'm not," Clarke told ESPNcricinfo.

"I don't think you should force it."

Clarke acknowledged those comment contradicted much of what he stood for as skipper.

"I loved that aggressive approach ... that's how I thought we played our best cricket," Clarke said.

"There were a couple of occasions where I did open my big mouth. The reason I did that with James Anderson was to stick up for George Bailey and the Dale Steyn one was sticking up for James Pattinson as well.

"But I shouldn't have said a word, in both situations there was no need for me to say anything.

"The more I experienced ... I believed it wasn't what you said it was what you did, so your performance wasn't dictated by your mouth."

Australia offspinner Nathan Lyon indicated earlier this week that his side would continue to "headbutt" the line when it came to sledging.

Proteas paceman Vernon Philander fired back on Tuesday, saying the tourists wouldn't be afraid to get "nasty" if the situation called for it.

Haddin felt sledging could easily backfire depending on the situation. "Sometimes if you're just focusing on talking and trying to get a reaction it can have a negative effect on your team," Haddin told ESPNcricinfo. "You wouldn't say anything to a Kevin Pietersen for example because he'd dig his heels in and start taking it personally to hit us all around the park. One of the best things for him was to stay away from him."

- AAP