When sorrows come, they come not single spies/But in battalions, moaned Claudius, and for much of Thursday's cricket at Liverpool Lancashire's players and supporters probably had a rough idea what Hamlet's arch-enemy was on about.
At the end of a season in which Glen Chapple's players have been greatly frustrated by the rain and even more irritated by their own inability to produce their best cricket even when the weather has been remotely clement, the Old Trafford side could have done without having to remove the classy young Keaton Jennings from the crease on the third day of the game against Durham at Aigburth.
Eventually they managed it - Jennings was caught at short leg by Steven Croft off Gary Keedy - but not before the 20-year-old South African, who is qualifying for England by residence, had made a polished and composed 70 off 128 balls. One-eyed cricket supporters who fail to see the merits in their opponents are really no sort of cricket supporters at all, so it was pleasing that the Liverpool crowd gave a warm ovation to Jennings on his return to the pavilion. This is a cricketer whose progress we would do well to follow.
"I thought he looked quite organised," was Gary Keedy's professional assessment of Jennings. "He knew his shots, he left the ball well and he looked a compact player, but once we had a plan to shut his areas down he struggled to score and got frustrated."
Keedy, one might conclude, is rather an expert on frustration. Partly because there have been so few two-spinner wickets this summer, the 37-year-old is making only his third Championship appearance of the season in this game but his two for 45 off 15 overs had helped limit Durham to 187 for four at the close of the third day. That's a deficit of 75 on Lancashire's first innings total of 262, but with only one day to play a draw is the odds-on outcome from this game. In all probability that result leaves Lancashire needing to win their last two games in order to avoid relegation in a fortnight's time.
This evening the club's supporters may be reflecting on the satisfaction they gained from watching Keedy and Simon Kerrigan operate in tandem. It was Kerrigan, the junior partner in flighted deceit, who made the first breakthrough when he had Mark Stoneman caught at short leg at the second attempt by a diving Steven Croft. Stoneman made 44 in 73 balls and had helped Jennings add 90 for the first wicket on a benign pitch.
Two overs later Keedy and Kerrigan began to bowl in tandem and this tactic was adopted very frequently in an evening session in which Durham lost three further wickets. The first of these to depart was Jennings, stifled by Keedy, but he was followed two overs later by the England A all-rounder Ben Stokes, whose attempt to force the pace ended when he drove Keedy straight to Ashwell Prince at short midwicket.
Lancashire's final success was one of their most notable. Dale Benkenstein has often scored heavily against the Red Rose and it may have therefore been a relief for home supporters when he was bowled attempting to pull Kerrigan, who was by then operating from the River End. But Durham's No3 Mark Richardson, the son of the ICC general manager and former South Africa wicketkeeper Dave Richardson, was 39 not out at stumps and he was partnered by Paul Collingwood, who is not renowned for donating his wicket to the opposition. Kerrigan, bowling better for Keedy's company at the other end, finished the day with two for 42 off 19 overs
Earlier in a day distinguished by sunny weather, Lancashire lost their last four wickets for 41 runs in 17.1 overs. Three batsmen, including Tom Smith for 91, were dismissed by the outstanding Graham Onions who finished with figures of six for 41, his fifth haul of five or more wickets this season and the 16th of his career.
Onions has now taken 62 championship wickets in 2012 and some idea of the difficulty Lancashire batsmen faced when playing him can be gauged from the fact that Smith scored just four singles off the 48 deliveries he faced from the 29-year-old Durham seamer. Kyle Hogg was unbeaten on a battling 60 when the last wicket fell, by which time Lancashire had collected two valuable batting bonus points. Sadly for home fans, Chapple's men need their points to come not singly, but in 16-point dollops - and they need the first consignment to arrive at Lord's next week.
Report Day 1 I Day 2 -no play rain
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh