Although the result was the same for both
teams, there was a marked difference in the responses to yesterday’s drawn Test
in Perth.

While the South Africans
weren’t exactly jubilant,
it was a very positive start to the series. There is talk of the
Proteas taking
momentum into the next match and their biggest problem is how to fit all
of the
players who have earned a place into the team. Reuters
claims the South Africans won a psychological victory.

By contrast, the Australian response was
muted, downcast, full of what-ifs, talk of analysis. Ponting was fielding
questions about the massive target he set the South Africans and being bagged,
in retrospect, for waiting for Hodge to notch his 200 before declaring. As
though 126 overs wasn’t enough time.

Meanwhile, the South Africans were
celebrating one of the most defiant innings played in recent times. Some, but
not all, of the South African press have reported the draw enthusiastically.

“While the Australians
had cause to ponder, the South Africans had reason to celebrate an
old-fashioned innings built on concentration and willpower,” The Mail &

The Cape Times was more
circumspect. “South Africa will need to show greater resolve and sharper
skills if they are going to compete with world No. 1 test side Australia in the next few months.”

Indeed, the expectation of victory for the
Australians is so strong that a stoic performance from a committed
opponent barely rates as an explanation. It’s all about what Ricky and his
charges failed to do, or did wrong.

The real winners have been the headline writers.
With 24-year-old batsman Jacques Rudolph leading the Proteas to a draw, his
surname and the festive season have been a Xmas gift for some: “Rudolph Flies High”, “Rudolph Sleighs Aussie
Attack”. Ian Henderson on ABC news in Melbourne managed not to snigger as he said “… and
Rudolph saves Christmas for the South Africans in the First Test.”