THE BLOG
05/04/2018 13:44 SAST | Updated 05/04/2018 13:44 SAST

New Aussie Cricket Ethos On Stunning Display At Wanderers

It feels like the Australians are starting to take their 'commitment to change' seriously.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

HUMOUR

A brand-new chapter is underway for Australian cricket. It was launched to stunning effect as hastily flown-in replacement batsmen Matt Renshaw, Joe Burns and Peter Handscomb immediately got to work in the first innings of the test at Wanderers following the recent Newlands ball-tampering scandal.

With tears still drying on Smith, Warner and Bancroft's cheeks, the new batsmen applied themselves, seemingly without effort, to scoring a total of 10 runs between them. More importantly though, the 41 balls they collectively faced proved the seriousness of Australia's new intention to wipe out any suspicion of ball tampering whatsoever.

In fact it was only Usman Khawaja, in the first half of Australia's innings, who showed any kind of reluctance to embrace this new philosophy with a strike rate of over 60 in his 53, revealing that the old ways of striking the ball with the bat would take some letting go.

It was the collective efforts of the new additions to the squad that really laid down the gauntlet for the rest of the side as to just what they should be doing in this new era of Australian cricket. Peter Handscomb was a stand-out, refusing to even risk guiding a catch to the slip cordon. Instead, he allowed Philander a clear view of his stumps, which were gratefully ripped out of the ground.

"I've noticed that when the bat strikes the ball, there is a tendency for it to cause some abrasion to the ball's surface", Handscomb told Kass Naidoo, during the tea interval. "With what happened at Newlands, and knowing now that audiences frown upon us roughing up the ball, I felt the need to set a good example for the other lads in the squad."

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
Australia's Pat Cummins and Tim Paine failed to obey the new Aussie directive that forbids roughing up the ball by hitting it.

At 38/3 it really seemed like Cricket Australia was going to be able to successfully put the ball tampering woes quickly behind them, but Khawaja's open contempt for the new ways seemed to start a disturbing trend.

Stand-in captain Tim Paine and fast bowler Pat Cummins could clearly be seen suffering a "brain-freeze" and slipping back into the filthy Aussie habits of the past for the duration of their partnership. The duo were witnessed on camera repeatedly lashing out with their bats, in a way that experts suggest was definitely going to cause direct wear-and-tear on the ball.

Fortunately, a hastily scribbled message by Darren Lehmann, sent out to the batsmen in the twelfth man's trousers, corrected this behaviour just as they were about to reach a century partnership. Cummins quickly thrust his pads in the way of a Maharaj delivery, before Nathan Lyon and Chadd Sayers made rushed gestures to show they too were ready to adopt the new ball-protecting ethos.

Eventually, even Tim Paine resigned himself to toeing the line, and he was the last man out with the score on 221.

It may have been little touch-and-go at times, but with only 70 overs faced in total in their first Wanderers innings, and many of those balls left alone completely, it felt like the Australians were starting to take their commitment to change seriously.

It was therefore unsurprising that when Australia came out to bat for the second time in the match, they were, to a man, committed to getting off the field with the ball as untarnished as possible.