Proteas, Australia 'shake off' bad blood

Tim Paine (Gallo)
Tim Paine (Gallo)

Johannesburg - The fourth and final Test between the Proteas and Australia got underway in unusual fashion at the Wanderers on Friday. 

SCORECARD: SA v Australia - 4th Test, Day 1

The sides walked out together to sing the national anthems as is always the case, but when the players all exchanged handshakes before the start of play it was not something that Test cricket is used to seeing. 

That idea, it was later confirmed, came from Australian stand-in captain Tim Paine

Australian cricket has been in disarray this week following the backlash from the Newlands ball-tampering incident. 

In the aftermath, captain Steve Smith and superstar David Warner have been banned for a year each for their part in the saga while, on Thursday, Darren Lehmann stepped down as head coach. 

The ball-tampering development took things to an entirely new level, but there have been controversial incidents - some off-field and some on - that have been plaguing this series since the first Test in Durban. 

The response from the Australian public to the ball-tampering has been immense, and it has ultimately resulted in Cricket Australia acknowledging the need for the national team to change its hard-nosed, win at all costs culture. 

He may be unsure of his long-term leadership, but Paine used his first Test in charge to start building bridges. 

"I had actually been watching soccer and I noticed that they do that every game," he said on Friday. 

"I just thought that cricket is the gentleman's game and I spoke to our players about bringing it in.

"Perhaps it's not something we're going to do every Test match, but it's not a bad way to start a Test series. It's something we might look to use going forward as a good show of sportsmanship."

Paine acknowledged that he wanted to gesture to symbolise a fresh start.

"There has been a lot of water under bridge and a bit of tension between the two sides, so for us to show that we want to be super competitive but also respect the opposition ... it was important that we showed that today," he said.

"It's something that we want to take forward and if other sides want to then that's how we'll start a Test series."

Proteas opener Aiden Markram, who scored a career-best 152, said the whole South African side had appreciated the sentiment. 

"It's great to see. There has been a lot of drama this last week and it's not nice to see at all," Markram said.

"To have started fresh this Test match and in that way, I thought it was a great gesture. It was a nice way to show people that there are people in these cricket sides as well."

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