Johannesburg: Embattled Australia returned to the business of playing cricket yesterday after a week of scandal, suspensions, confessions and torrents of tears.
The Australian team took to the field in Johannesburg for the final Test against South Africa of a series that will be forever tainted by the ball-tampering scandal.
Just six days earlier, Australian fielder Cameron Bancroft was caught by TV cameras trying to tamper with the ball using sandpaper, triggering a dramatic series of events that led to captain Steve Smith and two other players being banned and coach Darren Lehmann announcing he will stand down after this match.
Lehmann gathered his shell-shocked team in a huddle before action began at Wanderers Stadium, but admitted it was hard to concentrate.
“We’re not a hundred per cent mentally right but we’re representing our country and we’ve got to get the ball rolling by playing the best cricket we possibly can,” Lehmann said.
Australia, led by stand-in captain Tim Paine, took out Dean Elgar (19) and Hashim Elgar (27) early on but Aiden Markram struck a century to take the hosts to 166-2. South Africa lead the series 2-1.
Off-spinner Nathan Lyon took the wicket of Elgar, who was caught at mid-off by new cap Chadd Sayers.
Sayers was one of four changes in the Australian team, replacing Mitchell Starc, who was ruled out with a stress fracture of his lower right leg and he will also miss the Indian Premier League season.