CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Hundreds of Australian cricket supporters have travelled a vast distance at great expense to follow their side on the tour of South Africa and many have been left disillusioned and angry by the ball-tampering scandal that has erupted around the side.
Australia captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner stood down on Sunday morning, the fourth day of the on-going third test against South Africa at Newlands, after admitting a pre-meditated attempt to tamper with the ball on the third day.
It is a scandal that has sent shockwaves through Australian sport and for those who spend money following the team around the world, has left them with a deep sense of displeasure.
“It is amazingly disappointing. It’s disgraceful actually,” Scott Keeley from Adelaide told Reuters at Newlands.
“We are staying in the same hotel as the players and walking through there last night and this morning, it is like being at a funeral. It was very sombre.
“Some of the players not involved in this match were going about their business as usual, but the ones involved in the game where harder to spot, which is a change from the previous days.
“It has left us in absolute shock. This is not what Australian sport is about. The tough but fair (style) is something that we share with South Africa in the way we like to play our sport.”
Keeley thought Smith had no option but to resign and said many in his sizeable tour party had decided to shun the cricket on Sunday.
“It feels like a token gesture, though, because I see him out there. But I think the worst is still to come for Steve Smith,” he said.
“In our tour group, I know there are a lot of people who didn’t come today. The yellow t-shirts are nowhere near as prevalent. The vibe amongst the group is very much one of disgust and disappointment.”
A member of another tour group, Chris McIntyre from Brisbane, agreed that Smith’s position was no longer tenable.
“You have got to maintain the credibility of the game,” he said.
“Steve is a great cricketer, but he was captain of Australia ... everybody involved in Australian cricket should be disappointed in the actions of yesterday. It is against the spirit of cricket.
“We would like to say we are competitive and that we do like to win, and we are out to win. But the game of cricket is bigger than one result.”
He suggested that all those who had spent thousands of dollars to be part of the tour had been let down.
“Just in our tour group there is excess of 100 people and there are probably three or four other groups,” McIntyre added.
“So you have three or four hundred Australians who are here at Newlands and you would like to see cricket that is in the spirit of the game.”
Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Nick Mulvenney