As the Australian cricketers found themselves in middle of a major controversy on Saturday, former Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was shocked to know about the ball-tampering episode.

“WHAT THE… HAVE I JUST WOKEN UP TO. Please tell me this is a bad dream,” Clarke tweeted, an hour after Australia skipper Steven Smith admitted that the ‘leadership group knew about the plan.’

On Saturday afternoon, the television footage appeared to show Cameron Bancroft, 25, take on object out of his pocket while fielding in the post-lunch session on the third day of the Test at Newlands.

He was spoken to by umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth during the 43rd over of South Africa's second innings after appearing to have the object in his hand after fielding the ball at cover.

While the umpires were conferring, Bancroft then appeared to place a small yellow object in his underpants.

When the umpires went across to talk to him he reached into a pocket and showed them what seemed to be a different object -- what looked like a soft pouch for sunglasses.

The umpires took no action and did not change the ball.

There were boos from a capacity crowd at Newlands when the incident was shown on the big screen at the ground.

Both Bancroft and Smith, who took over the Australian captaincy in 2015, appeared before the media after the match and admitted that they had attempted to change the condition of the ball.