This was a team which was no longer liked, by even their most loyal supporters.

A team which had seen its captain, vice-captain and a promising batsman banished into the wilderness after blatantly cheating.

And yet, after all that, the Australian cricket team decided it was an ideal opportunity to let a camera into their sanctuary, to film a documentary series that lifts the veil on the redemption, personalities and vulnerabilities in their side.

But how does one get unprecedented access to the team, especially after the sandpaper scandal that sent them to one of their lowest points?


"I don't know if we ever really did," The Test director Adrian Brown says.

"We started by talking to the team and seeking their blessing. It was them giving us an opportunity, and we understand the sensitivities, but take us on tour and let's see what happens."

The unprecedented eight-part documentary, which was this week released on Amazon Prime Video, delves into the rebuilding and rekindling of a team which went from struggling to compete, to losing in the one day World Cup semifinals, to retaining the Ashes in England.

"We weren't sure how to do it. A basketball or footy game goes a couple of hours, but a test match goes five days. We weren't sure how to tell this concisely and so we just kept going and going and backing ourselves into making it," Brown says.

The eventual result reveals a surprising level of insight into the personalities of the team. Batsman Usman Khawaja, who has struggled to have a regular spot in the side, appears to be the spokesman for the players when Justin Langer takes over as coach, voicing concerns and discomfort amongst the team.

"I wasn't going to be anyone I'm not. And I've always stood by that. Whatever happens in life, I'll always stick by my morals and what I think is the right thing to do. Whether it's to my detriment or not," Khawaja tells the Herald on Sunday.

It also shows immense vulnerability from a lot of the players. There are the typical reactions after getting out, or being injured, or losing a test. That's expected. But there are also intimate moments, such as Nathan Lyon presenting Travis Head with his baggy green cap before his test debut, choking through tears as he shares a special moment with the little brother he never had.

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Behind-the-scenes footage also reveals how the team welcomed back the banned trio of Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, and how they rallied around the trio when the abuse came hurtling towards them when they were in a Birmingham bus, surrounded by English fans.


Such was the amount of laughter from the Aussies, the Englishmen may as well have been comedians on a stage, firing out jokes rather than abuse.

"They needed the confidence they were backed by their mates. And I think it just made it more enjoyable," fast bowler Peter Siddle tells the Herald on Sunday.

Renowned Australian broadcaster Gerard Whateley mentions in the documentary that the incident in Cape Town "wasn't damage to a ball, it was damage to a brand".

The now-retired Siddle, who can use this series as his own personal scrapbook, feels it shows how different the team is and how their brand is at an all-time high.

"You always want to be the No 1 team in all formats. But after Cape Town, we also wanted to salvage the fans back. People fell out of love with cricket."

Australian ODI captain Aaron Finch. Photo / Photosport
Australian ODI captain Aaron Finch. Photo / Photosport

Throughout the series, the term "mateship" is regularly used. It's an odd word, but one which the team associates with the Anzac spirit, after visiting Gallipoli and France during the documentary.


"It [mateship] is everything," Lyon says. "I can go out and take as many wickets as I can, but it's going to be the mates I've already made which is going to make my life even more special."

"To be able to see how hard they [the Anzacs] had it, it was extraordinary," one-day captain Aaron Finch reflects. "They had their backs against the wall the whole time, but the fact they kept fighting, their spirit, was amazing."

So, what do they hope the documentary shows? More specifically, what would they like New Zealanders to get out of the series?

"Hopefully they realise there's a lot more to us," says Lyon.

"There are some who are quite strange, mainly the batsmen, but we are just like any other blokes around the world."