Captain Tim Paine has apologised for a ‘really poor game as leader’ after the behaviour of Australia’s cricketers came under the spotlight once more during the third Test against India at Sydney.

Paine, who was handed the task of restoring the team’s credibility after the Sandpapergate fiasco at Cape Town in 2018, was heard calling India’s Ravi Ashwin a ‘d***head’, after star batsman Steve Smith scraped over the batting guard mark of Rishabh Pant with his boot.   

Paine admitted he ‘ended up looking like a fool’ because he dropped a catch soon after sledging Ashwin as India pulled off a memorable draw in the third Test in Sydney to keep the series level at 1-1.

Australia captain Tim Paine (above) has apologised for a 'really poor game as leader'

Australia captain Tim Paine (above) has apologised for a ‘really poor game as leader’

‘I want to apologise for the way I went about things yesterday. I’m someone who prides themselves on the way I lead this team and yesterday was a poor reflection of the team,’ Paine said.

‘I let the pressure of the game get to me. It affected my mood and my performance.

‘I’ve had a really poor game as a leader … yesterday I fell short of my expectations and our team’s standards. I’m human. I want to apologise for the mistakes I made yesterday.

‘It’s certainly not a reflection of the way I want to lead this team. We’ve set high standards over the last few months and … I’m bitterly disappointed.’

Paine (left) clashed with Indian batsman Ravi Ashwin (right) during ill-tempered third Test

Paine (left) clashed with Indian batsman Ravi Ashwin (right) during ill-tempered third Test

Paine had a barbed exchange with Ashwin that was picked up by the stump microphone

Paine had a barbed exchange with Ashwin that was picked up by the stump microphone

The gloveman was also fined 15 percent of his match fee by the International Cricket Council for showing dissent at an umpire over a decision on day three. 

‘My mood throughout the whole Test match was a bit off. The way I spoke to the umpires was unacceptable.

‘I’ve got to cop that on the chin. It’s certainly not a reflection of how I want to do it going forward.

Steve Smith was at the centre of more controversy three years after the ball tampering scandal

Steve Smith was at the centre of more controversy three years after the ball tampering scandal

Stump camera picked up Smith appearing to scuff up the batsman's guard mark with his boots

Stump camera picked up Smith appearing to scuff up the batsman’s guard mark with his boots

‘I fell short of my own standards and expectations. I’m bitterly disappointed with that.’

Paine also insisted that there was nothing sinister in top batsman Steve Smith seemingly scratching away the batting guard mark of India’s Rishabh Pant during the final day. Smith was seen roughing up the crease area with his spikes.  

The Australia captain said Smith, who was stripped of the Australian captaincy and banned for a year in 2018 for his part in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal, had been upset by the allegations.

‘I know he’s really disappointed with the way it’s come across,’ Paine told reporters on Tuesday.

Ashwin (left) and Hanuma Vihari batted India to an improbable draw at the SCG on Monday

Ashwin (left) and Hanuma Vihari batted India to an improbable draw at the SCG on Monday

‘If you’ve watched Steve Smith play test cricket, that’s something that he does every single game five or six times a day.

‘He’s always standing in the batting crease shadow batting. As we know, he’s got those many Steve Smith quirks and one of those is he’s always marking centre.

‘He was certainly not changing (Pant’s) guard and if he was, that’s something that the Indians would have kicked up a bit stink about at the time.’

And Paine went on to admit the adverse reaction may have dissuaded his team-mate from continuing the practice. 

‘It’s one of his mannerisms, he does it a lot, he was marking centre he wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination trying to change guard or anything like that,’ he added.

‘It’s something that he might need to look at because of the perception of it.’