Essex hold on to secure draw as Middlesex are frustrated by weather in County Championship
- Credit: PA
Middlesex were frustrated by a combination of bad light and lower-order resistance as Essex clung on for a draw in the Specsavers County Championship at Lord’s.
The champions were on course for their first win of the season when they reduced Essex, chasing a notional target of 452, to 130 for seven in the first over after tea.
But eighth wicket pair Neil Wagner and Simon Harmer blunted Middlesex’s attack for 15 overs and as the light deteriorated home skipper James Franklin was forced to employ slow bowlers at both ends.
Leg spinner Dawid Malan immediately had Harmer (20) lbw, but only two more overs were possible before umpires Ian Gould and Paul Baldwin took the players off for the third time in the day with 13 overs remaining, Essex 160 for eight and Wagner unbeaten on 16.
Apart from Cook, Essex’s main resistance came from Ravi Bopara (32) who dug in for just over two hours before he was seventh out in the first over after tea.
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Conditions were as good as they had been all day at that stage but Harmer and Neil Wagner defied Steven Finn and Toby Roland-Jones for 10 overs to give them their team the chance of escape.
Franklin had the luxury of runs on the board and enjoyed the happy knack of making bowling changes which brought immediate reward. Middlesex’s slip fielding was faultless too with Malan epitomising this when he dived to his left to remove Adam Wheater for a duck off Roland-Jones.
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Earlier, Essex had added 19 runs to their overnight 19 for 0 when Tim Murtagh made the breakthrough, bowling Nick Browne (19).
Cook and Tom Westley took the score to 74 when Westley (13) was lbw to a ball from Roland-Jones. Cook fell without addition to the total and after lunch Essex lost two wickets on 104, Dan Lawrence (13) and Wheater.
Ryan ten Doeschate (one) became Roland-Jones’ third victim but rain and bad light forced the teams off for an hour after a two-over stoppage during the morning.
Bopara’s dismissal on the resumption left the Essex tail with 30 overs to survive but with a little help from the weather they were able to do so.
Middlesex picked up 12 points, Essex eight.