County Championship: Essex on brink of title after wash-out on day three at Taunton

Bleak scenes at Taunton day day three of the title decider
Bleak scenes at Taunton day day three of the title decider

Essex tightened their grip on the Specsavers County Championship title race as the third day of their Taunton clash with rivals Somerset was washed out.

Play was finally abandoned at 4.35pm, leaving Somerset in the unenviable position of needing to take 20 Essex wickets on the final day to claim the pennant for the first time.

Even if the weather improves, and there is a kinder forecast for Thursday, Essex should avoid the ignominy of being bowled out twice to win a second Championship title in three seasons.

Essex were 25 without loss, Nick Browne unbeaten on 16 and Alastair Cook on five, in reply to Somerset's first-innings total of 203.

Overnight rain meant a morning mopping-up exercise and added to the frustration of 119 overs being lost during the first two days.

Umpires Alex Wharf and Rob Bailey held several inspections as squally showers gave way to brighter skies.

But the rain returned in mid-afternoon to leave Essex on the brink of winning their eighth Championship title.

Reaction

Somerset director of cricket Andy Hurry insists his players will not "wave the white flag" despite Wednesday's wash-out.

He said: "It's definitely not the end. Our challenge now becomes stiffer, but it's important having demonstrated throughout the whole season courage, conviction and belief that we don't lose that overnight.

"We've put too much on the line for too long a period to wave the white flag. It's not what we're about. We're also about the future as well, and making sure we put down a marker for next year."

Nearly 120 overs were lost on the opening two days to thwart Somerset hopes of claiming a first Championship title in their 144-year history.

In the play that has been possible Somerset made 203 in their first innings, with Essex 25 for no wicket in reply.

Even if the weather improves, and there is a kinder forecast for Thursday, Essex should avoid the ignominy of being bowled out twice to win a second Championship title in three seasons.

But Hurry said: "It's important we turn up in the morning in the right frame of mind and give it 100 per cent. And it's a funny old game. This summer we've seen some amazing cricket and some huge twists and turns. So anything can happen - and we've got to keep believing.

"We've got to get runs on the board and bowl them out."

Review of the rest of the action

Ollie Pope completed his second century since returning from injury in a rain-shortened day at the Oval against Nottinghamshire.

The England batsman (106) and Scott Borthwick (137) led Surrey to a declaration at 402 for six, with the visitors losing just Steven Mullaney in making 77 before stumps.

Graeme Van Buuren and Ben Charlesworth's 151-run seventh-wicket stand against Northamptonshire pushed Gloucestershire closer to promotion from Division Two.

Teenage all-rounder Charlesworth equalled his career best with an unbeaten 77 while Van Buuren's top score of the season (93) helped his side reach the close on 220 for seven.

Northamptonshire are all but promoted and third-placed Gloucestershire will be sure to join them if they can bank three further bonus points and claim a draw.

Lancashire were bowled out for 170 - something of a recovery from 77 for six - in 47.3 overs after rain delayed the start of day three against Leicestershire, for whom Dieter Klein and Ben Mike both took three wickets apiece.

Leicestershire reached 40 without loss at the close, a lead of just 25.

Middlesex's Dawid Malan and Derbyshire's Billy Godleman both passed 1,000 runs for the summer as their game at Lord's drifted towards a draw.

Malan (72) hung around just long enough in the morning to creep into four figures as the hosts lost their last five wickets for just 47 runs, with Fynn Hudson-Prentice finishing off the tail with three dismissals in as many overs.

Godleman then sneaked past Malan to 1,008 runs after making 27 as Derbyshire closed their first innings on 199 for four, still 61 behind.

There was no play at the Division One matches between Kent and Hampshire, and in Division Two, in the games between Yorkshire and Warwickshire, Durham and Glamorgan and Sussex at home to Worcestershire

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