Former England captain Michael Vaughan labels New Zealand the 'benchmark' for cricket

With international cricket reeling from the Australian ball-tampering scandal, former England captain Michael Vaughan has held the Blackcaps up as standardbearers for conduct in the game.

In the wake of their convincing first-test win over his former side, Vaughan believes New Zealand have set the bar when it comes to their firm-yet-fair approach to the game.

"I look at New Zealand and think that's the way to play cricket," he told BBC Radio. "They're the benchmark to how cricket should be played."

It's an approach that stands in stark contrast to the aggression of the Australians, which has been laid bare by the recent ball-tampering scandal that rocked the foundations of the sport.

While Vaughan admitted he was far from innocent during his own days in the field, he deemed the latest controversy, spearheaded by skipper Steve Smith, as comeuppance for Australia's persistent defiance of the "gentleman's game" code of conduct.

"[Australia] has got too arrogant and up itself that they feel they can target individuals, teams, countries, fans. You've just got to play the game - play it hard and play well.

"The Prime Minister said, himself, the Australian cricketers are held in such high esteem, they're so much higher than the Prime Minister that every little boy and girl in the country are looking to Steve Smith, they're looking to him to be their leader on how to play the game."

Smith has been stood down for the team's final test against South Africa and fined 100 percent of his match fee by the International Cricket Council, with further repercussions from Cricket Australia imminent.

England will have a chance to square their series with New Zealand when the second and final test starts in Christchurch on Friday.