Australia captain Tim Paine has apologised for being involved in an ugly sledging incident with India's Ravichandran Ashwin during the last day's play of the drawn Sydney Test.
Paine admitted his conduct was unbecoming for a leader of the Australian team and claimed things became unnecessarily heated out in the middle.
The Aussie wicketkeeper was caught on the stump microphones launching a series of verbal jabs at Ashwin, even calling him a "****head" as he tried to disturb the veteran spinner's concentration.
Ashwin withstood the barrage of offensive comments and helped India salvage a fighting draw with his stoic act of resistance.
"I want to apologise for the way I went about things yesterday... my leadership wasn't good enough, I let the pressure of the game get to me," Paine said in a press conference on Tuesday.
The 36-year-old's elevation to the captaincy position came about in the aftermath of the infamous ball-tampering scandal in 2018 as Australia aimed to alter the toxic image of the team.
However, Paine's actions undermined these efforts and raised questions over the efficacy of Australia's revamp of the excessively aggressive on-field attitude.
"I'm a captain who wants to enjoy the game, who wants to play the game with a smile on his face and I fell short of my expectations and our team standards," he said.
Paine was earlier fined for dissent after swearing at umpire Paul Wilson on day two of the Test match in response to Australia's review being wasted. "My mood throughout the whole Test was probably a bit off," he conceded.
He also defended star batsman Steve Smith, who has faced backlash for supposed foul play whilst Rishabh Pant was batting. Smith attracted criticism from former players such as Michael Vaughan and Virender Sehwag for shadow batting and apparently scuffing up Pant's pitch marks.
"It's one of his mannerisms, he was marking centre, he wasn't by any stretch of the imagination trying to change guard or do anything like that," Paine stated.
Australia's chances of going for a victory push were hampered by Paine's three costly drops on the final day. He felt this worsened his mood, though he was able to see the humour in the botched chances later in a chat with Ashwin.
"I ended up looking the fool, didn't I? You open your mouth and then you drop a catch."