Ricky Ponting pulls the ball away on the way to scoring 134.SYDNEY _ Grit your teeth and hang on through the tough times because they don’t last forever.

It’s a philosophy adopted with gratifying success by sleep-deprived parents, gastroenteritis sufferers, those hosting inlaws at Christmas, and Test cricketers.

Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke could tell you all about it.

So could just about anyone who has played this mysterious, bewitching, enchanting, frustrating and maddening game which has come to stand as a metaphor for life.

Compare the first two days of the Sydney Test.

On day one, 13 wickets fell; on day two, just one.

Batsmen tumbled on the opening day in a manner that made the owners of day-four tickets fear for their investments.

The pitch was greenish and moist, the ball swung, bounced and seamed, bowlers pitched the cherry up, batsmen lived on their nerves and keepers and slippers waited like crocodiles in a mid-summer watering hole.

Day two’s proceedings looked like they were taking place at a different venue, maybe on a different planet.

The pitch had flattened out, the moisture had evaporated, the ball wasn’t moving nearly as much, whatever gremlins and demons existed the previous day had vanished, the batsmen looked utterly at ease and the bowlers grew clueless.

Having survived the tumult of day one, Ponting and Clarke saw it was time to cash in when they resumed yesterday.

They placed their milking stools under a bloated cow and went to work.

When they were full of milk, they started plucking plums from an orchard full of low-hanging fruit.

They ended up putting on 288.

By mid-afternoon, the Indian attack looked like it was bowling for run-outs.

Ponting reached his first Test century for two years.

Clarke was hungrier for more.

He made it a double, and went on to make the highest Test score by an Australian at the SCG, unbeaten on 251. Like Ponting, Clarke has been around for long enough to know that you have to ride the good waves for as long as you can.

The good times don’t last forever, either.

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