Glenn Maxwell. Photo: Getty Images
All-rounder Glenn Maxwell said that the Australian set-up was disappointed at the manner in which the tainted ball-tampering trio of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft was treated after the incident blew up during the Cape Town Test versus South Africa.
Maxwell, along with the opening pair of Joe Burns and Matt Renshaw, were sent as last-minute replacements ahead of the Johannesburg Test. The aggressive batsman described the build-up to the final Test of the tour as 'difficult'. The all-rounder noted it was tough for the team to witness the humiliation endured by the three players, especially the televised apologies from Smith and Bancroft, and the scenes in the Johannesburg airport where Smith was escorted amidst 'boos and heckles' from the assembled crowd.
"I think the way they saw it, it was obviously beaten up a fair bit and they've seen a couple of their mates treated like criminals," he told Melbourne's Radio SEN . "That is a hard thing for you to watch as a teammate, and to what they went through, especially Steve Smith at the airport, that was a hard thing for everyone to watch.
"To then try and get yourself ready for a game of cricket a day later was extremely difficult, and I certainly didn't envy their position at all. It was an extremely tough time for that whole playing group," the 29-year old added.
A dispirited and flat Australia never recovered from the shock and slumped to a massive 492-run loss in the final Test in Johannesburg, their second heaviest defeat in terms of runs in Tests. The loss also confirmed South Africa's first-ever Test series win at home against Australia since readmission in 1991-92. Maxwell agreed that the 'reintegration' process was tougher then he anticipated.
"I had thoughts of what it could be like, and I hoped I could've provided something different for the group when I got over there, whether it be energy or just a happy face around the group to try and cheer them up," he said.
"The enormity struck me at the end of the test match when Boof (coach Darren Lehmann) had his goodbye speech and spoke about a few players in the group that he hoped could lead the group going forward. I think that's when it all hit me and how hard it was for this young group," Maxwell concluded.