Former Test captain Steve Waugh on Wednesday said the country's embattled cricket team had “failed our culture” after opting to cheat, as England coach Trevor Bayliss admitted he was embarrassed to be Australian.
Current skipper Steve Smith, his deputy David Warner and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft have been ordered home from South Africa in disgrace after a ball-tampering scandal.
Waugh, considered the embodiment of Australian grit who played 168 Tests, said he was “deeply troubled” by the events in Cape Town when Bancroft was caught on camera attempting to doctor the ball with a piece of tape.
“The Australian cricket team has always believed it could win in any situation against any opposition, by playing combative, skilful and fair cricket, driven by our pride in the fabled Baggy Green,” he wrote on Facebook after being inundated by messages from heartbroken cricket fans.
“I have no doubt the current Australian team continues to believe in this mantra; however, some have now failed our culture, making a serious error of judgement in the Cape Town Test match.”
He said the incident breached the Spirit of Australian Cricket document set out in 2003, during his time as Test skipper, and the team must realign itself with it to salvage their reputation.
“We must urgently revisit this document, re-bind our players to it and ensure the spirit in which we play is safe-guarded for the future of the sport, and to continue to inspire the dreams of every young kid picking up a bat and ball and for every fan who lives and breathes the game,” he said.
'A terrible mistake'
But Waugh also cautioned that there must be “a focused and balanced perspective in the condemnation on those involved” and consideration given to their mental health.
Cricket Australia has announced an independent review into “the conduct and culture” of the team.
Condemnation of the players' actions has been widespread in Australia, where the role of national cricket captain is widely seen as the second most important job in the country behind Prime Minister.
Bayliss, in New Zealand with the England team, said he had been stunned by what went on, particularly the involvement of Smith, who he mentored when they were both with New South Wales.
“Steve is a lovely young bloke who has made a terrible mistake,” he told the BBC.
“I'm obviously disappointed - and as an Australian I'm embarrassed.”
Bayliss, who oversaw England's recent 4-0 Ashes defeat in Australia, put the scathing response down to the way Australia has played their cricket in recent years.
“It's almost like teams and people around the world have been waiting for them to stuff up so they can lay the boot in,” he said.
“It's one of those things that continually, over a period of time, builds and builds and unfortunately on this occasion, it's gone too far.”
Australian coach Darren Lehmann escaped reprimand by Cricket Australia and will remain in charge, and no other players were implicated.
But former Test captain Michael Clarke believes there is more to the story than meets the eye.
“Too many reputations on the line for the full story not to come out. Cape Town change room is a very small place!” he tweeted.