New-look Aussies' classy pre-match gesture

New captain Tim Paine borrowed a page from the world game's playbook as the Australian cricket team stopped sledging and started their mission to win back public support.

The cheating scandal and wide-ranging criticism of player behaviour prompted Cricket Australia to launch an independent review into team culture and conduct.

Paine, who became the nation's 46th Test skipper after Steve Smith's sacking, has already made some changes.

Australia were notably less nasty on day one of the fourth Test against South Africa as they tried to swap crass for class in Johannesburg.

There were no verbals or histrionics - in sharp contrast to the stoushes that have marred the previous three Tests.

There were also some pre-game handshakes between the rivals, a gesture Paine gleaned while watching soccer during a taxing week.

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The Australian team shook hands with their opponents ahead of the fourth Test. Pic: Fox Sports

"They do that every game and I thought cricket is the gentleman's game," the wicketkeeper told reporters.

"I spoke to our players about how it was something I wanted to bring in.

"It's not something we are going to do every Test match, but ... if other teams want to do it, we'll do it to start every series.

"He (South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis) thought it was a good idea and who knows, maybe other sides and South Africa may start to use it as well.

"It's a good show of sportsmanship and respect."

There was plenty of that during a topsy-turvy day at the Wanderers, where both sides scrapped for the ascendancy but tempers never frayed.

Paine hoped the shift in tact could be the silver lining to the "dark cloud" that is the ball-tampering saga.

"We've had conversations and a lot of coffees with each other, talking about what we're going to to change," the Tasmanian said.

"We still want to keep a really competitive brand of cricket but I think there's times we've got to be more respectful of our opposition, more respectful of the game of cricket.

"At times we've tended to push the boundaries as far as we possibly could.

"We've seen that people probably don't like that, so it's time for us to change. We're happy to do that, I think it actually suits this group.

The new-look Aussie team line up ahead of the fourth Test. Pic: AAP

"We haven't got too many guys that like to verbalise and have that sort of really hard-nosed Australian approach."

Paine noted the change could help improve on-field performance.

"We're about creating an environment where guys can come in and play cricket and just be themselves," he said.

"If we can achieve that then we'll have guys having better results as well.

"There wasn't too much verbal (on Friday, but) ... it still felt like a Test match. It was still really competitive."

South Africa opener Aiden Markram, who scored 152, agreed and praised Paine for introducing pre-game handshakes.

"It was a great gesture, just to show everyone that there are people behind this cricket side and they have feelings," Markram said.

"The first three games there was a lot of chat on the field.

"Not so much of that today.

"But having said that, being out there and batting there was always pressure."

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