James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia chief executive, has put the national team on notice to improve its on-field behaviour, after the CA board discussed the unsavoury events of the Durban Test match.
While David Warner has hung on to the vice-captaincy after his ICC sanction for bringing the game into disrepute alongside Quinton de Kock, captain Steven Smith and coach Darren Lehmann have been reminded of the behavioural standards expected of their team, not only in accordance with cricket's laws and the ICC code of conduct but also the spirit of the game.
At the same time, Sutherland acknowledged widespread discontent among cricket followers about the way the Kingsmead Test played out in terms of behaviour.
"The events of day four in Durban have unfortunately marred an otherwise very good Test match and a dominant performance by the Australian men's team," Sutherland said. "CA supports the sanctions imposed on players from both teams by the ICC, and commends match referee Jeff Crowe for his handling of a difficult situation.
"CA has reminded the team of the standards of behaviour expected of players representing Australia. Those standards are spelled out in the ICC Code of Conduct and also the Preamble to the Laws of Cricket. As the Preamble states, cricket is a game that owes much of its unique appeal to the fact that it should be played not only within its laws, but also within the Spirit of the Game.
"This includes the need to be respectful of opponents, and CA expects this to be observed by players at all times. Unfortunately neither team met this standard in Durban. The Australian team understands that fans expect better."
Lehmann had defended Warner most ardently, saying he "did the right thing" in response to de Kock's words in the Durban stairwell. "When it crossed the line he defended his family and women in general, so from my point of view I thought he did the right thing," Lehmann told 5AA. "Obviously not a great look with the CCTV, if he had his time again it'd be different, but he's still going to defend his family, and it's pretty offensive what was said to him. So for him to cop a lot of criticism I think's unwarranted."
Sutherland said that Australia's "highly competitive" game style would not change, and that in ICC code of conduct terms, Smith's team has maintained a fair disciplinary record since the introduction of the demerit points system in 2016. After accepting his ICC sanction on Wednesday, Warner will spend the next two years being only one disciplinary infringement away from a ban.
"Australia has always prided itself on taking a highly competitive approach to international cricket. This will not change, however, CA is confident that what occurred in Durban will remain an aberration," Sutherland said.
"Under the period of the current team leadership, Australian players have received fewer sanctions under the ICC Code of Conduct than players from the majority of the nine top-ranked Test-playing nations. CA is confident that the rest of the series in South Africa will be remembered for enthralling cricket played in the right spirit by both teams."
Warner has also made a public apology for his actions. "I just want to apologise for the way it played out," he told CA's website. "I regret that situation that happened. I'm sorry for the people I may have let down, our fans and people back home. and even my family. But at the end of the day when there's a vile comment that's made I'll keep continuing to stick up for my family because that's the most important thing to me."