Johannesburg: The fall-out from Australia’s ball-tampering scandal had a major effect on the performance of the team, new captain Tim Paine said after his team were thrashed by 492 runs in the fourth Test at the Wanderers Stadium on Tuesday.
The defeat gave South Africa a 3-1 series victory, their first at home against Australia since 1969/70.
Paine admitted that South Africa had outplayed Australia after losing the first Test in Durban. "We can't hide from the fact that purely on skill they outplayed us," he said.
But he said he was disappointed at the lack of fight shown as Vernon Philander ripped through his team on the final morning. Philander had career-best figures of six for 21, taking all six of his wickets for three runs in 5.2 overs. He dismissed the Marsh brothers, Shaun and Mitchell, with the first and fourth balls of the morning and Australia never recovered.
They crashed from 88 for three to 119 all out in 16.4 overs.
It brought to an end a series of high-quality cricket and even greater off-field drama, culminating in a ball tampering scandal during the third Test in Cape Town which resulted in former captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and Cameron Bancroft being sent home and banned.
"There's been enough spoken about the week we had," said Paine.
"We're disappointed with the way we handled it. This group had a chance to show some real fight and determination today, but unfortunately we weren't able to.
"Mentally we weren't quite there. You only have to be slightly off in any game of cricket, let alone (against) a team as good as South Africa, and you get exposed.
"I thought we were going to be better than we were. It obviously had more of an effect on guys than we probably knew ourselves."
Paine said Australia would reflect on what had happened. "Now we have the opportunity to go home and start again almost."