Lancashire's spin-dominated seven-man attack strove for 94 overs to wear down Durham's batsmen on the third day of the LV Division One championship match at Old Trafford but it will need something spectacular if Luke Sutton's side are to force a win on the final day.
By the close Will Smith's talented and very well-organised top order had built a lead of 261 runs and they seem certain to add significantly to that advantage on the fourth morning. Dale Benkenstein is 48 not out overnight and a generous declaration appears unlikely from the league leaders.
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The Lancashire bowlers never claimed wickets with the rapidity they had managed in the first innings although Gary Keedy's two for 69 off 41 overs clearly established him as the pick of the attack.
The slow left armer took the first Durham wicket to fall on the third day when Mark Stoneman was athletically caught by Francois du Plessis who dived from leg slip to something like leg-gully to accept the bat-and-pad chance. Brilliant for anyone else; par for the course for Faf.
Keedy also accounted for Durham's top-scorer Michael Di Venuto who was caught by Paul Horton, although by that time the Australian had made 84. Sadly, this was 83 more than when the same fielder had grassed a difficult chance off Kyle Hogg.
The other three wickets were taken by the spinners Stephen Parry, Francois du Plessis and, perhaps a little improbably, V V S Laxman, who had Will Smith caught down the leg side by Luke Sutton for one.
Cricket writers across the world have praised Laxman's timing, but the part-time off-spinner showed that this felicity extended to his bowling as well when he claimed his wicket on the point of lunch, just before he was presented with his Lancashire cap by club President Lord Steinberg.
Lancashire coach Peter Moores paid a warm tribute to Laxman after the close of play. "To be capped you become part of a special club at any county. I think V V S is a bit of a student of the game and for him it's a really important moment and one that's been well earned."
"He's passionate about the game and he loves it and he passes that on to the people he plays with. He'll be having chats with Gary Keedy, Stephen Parry and the batters and it'll advance their cricketing knowledge and that's part of what the game's about."
Also part of what the game's about is toughing it out when things are difficult and this is what Lancashire had to do in an afternoon session in which they had just one success while Durham added 117 runs. The wicket of Gordon Muchall, caught close in by Mark Chilton off du Plessis for a well-made 40, was valuable but it scarecely amounted to the sort of inroads Sutton's bowlers had been hoping for at lunch.
In the final session the attack recovered its discipline and Stephen Parry's final 13 overs represented the conclusion of a hard shift at the coalface of Championship cricket for the 23-year-old slow left-armer whose length and line improved as the day progressed.
Parry was rewarded with the final wicket of the day when he dismissed Ian Blackwell for the second time in the match, caught behind by Sutton for 25.
"Stephen Parry's had a few experiences in this match," acknowledged Moores wryly. "He's opened the batting against Graham Onions and international bowlers like Plunkett and he's also had to bowl on a pitch where people are looking to him to bowl people out. It's tough but the experience has been very good.
"The way he bowled after tea was a really good comeback and one of the things we've seen with Stephen all year is that he takes challenges on and seems to learn quickly from them.
"For him as a learning experience in Championship cricket the games against Hampshire and Durham couldn't have been better. The challenge for him is how you handle pressure. He's already learned an awful lot about how you might create pressure, how you might bowl on a turning pitch and and how hard it is to get a very well organised player like Di Venuto out."
Or, to put it in the context of the last three days, the game may end as a draw but Stephen Parry has won something valuable already.