ADELAIDE – Australia's cricketers admit they are drained from a huge effort to halt a demoralising losing streak while dealing with intense scrutiny over their poor form and the ball-tampering scandal.
They finally snapped their seven-game run of limited overs defeats thanks to a gutsy effort from their bowlers in the second one-dayer against South Africa in Adelaide on Friday.
Set 232 to win, the Proteas could only manage 224-9 in their 50 overs, leaving the series tied at 1-1 with the decider in Hobart on Sunday.
"We're all bloody tired. All the bowlers are cooked," said Marcus Stoinis, whose three wickets and run out of Aiden Markram were crucial to the team winning after another mediocre performance with the bat.
"It was a big effort, so really proud of everyone."
Before the game, Skipper Aaron Finch conceded the scrutiny of Australian cricket during recent months, including disarray within the sport's governing body, where a slew of executives have been forced out, was taking a toll.
He urged the players to keep their focus on the field and was proud of the way they pulled through.
"The way we defended was outstanding, The bowlers were relentless. Not sure if it's relief, but justification for some hard work," said Finch, who won man-of-the-match after being widely praised for the way he rotated his bowlers and placed the field.
Stoinis admitted "it's been a tough six months or so" and pointed to the team's character as helping them deal with the hard times.
"At the end of the day, all the guys that are in that team fight so hard, want to be there so much, train so hard, think about cricket all day every day," he said.
"I know obviously we haven’t got the results that maybe the media and the Australian public would want.
"But these guys, we all fight, we all really want to be there, we all really want to win, and so the character of the individuals speaks for itself."
South African captain Faf du Plessis was fuming that his team failed to tighten the screws after being well placed at 66-2 in the run chase, but with the next match on Sunday said there was no time to dwell.
"It's a tough pill to swallow. The nature of the wicket and the game was we only needed four-and-a-half an over," he said.
"But it's a quick turnaround, so we have to leave our disappointment in the dressing room."AFP