Glenn Maxwell has given an insight into the anguish among Australia's Test cricket squad in South Africa following the ball-tampering scandal.
Maxwell was one of three players rushed to join the tour before the final Test in Johannesburg after captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were sent home.
He has told Radio SEN the remaining players were hit hard watching the televised emotional apologies from Smith and Bancroft on arrival in Australia, and after chaotic scenes when Smith was booed while being escorted through Johannesburg airport.
"It was such a hard thing to come into," said Maxwell.
"The first day I was there they had the (airport media conference) interviews with Cameron Bancroft and Steve Smith, and to try go to training and provide some energy after that was a difficult thing, and obviously the group was struggling after watching that."
He said they found it hard to deal with what their colleagues went through.
"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, that is a hard thing for you to a 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 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."
Allrounder Maxwell, who did not play in the heavy fourth Test loss, had tried to imagine what to expect when he arrived.
"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, and I think that's when it all hit me and how hard it was for this young group."
Australian Associated Press