Walker and Pettini close out for draw
Essex 433 (Cook 155, Mickleburgh 112, Vaas 5-73) and 229 for 4 (Walker 70*, Pettini 67*) drew with Northamptonshire 538 for 9 dec (Peters 105, O'Brien 96, Vaas 96)
Essex's Matt Walker and Mark Pettini both struck unbeaten half-centuries as Essex secured a draw on the final day of their Second Division clash with Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.
It had looked the most likely outcome at the start of play and an unbeaten partnership of 147 between Walker and Pettini ensured it was the case as the visitors batted out the day in reaching 229 for 4 and declaring to end the match early.
Veteran Walker made 70 off 162 balls, including 10 fours, and was ably assisted by ex-captain Pettini, who plundered 67 off 159 deliveries. Northamptonshire had threatened a result in the morning when Lee Daggett removed Jaik Mickleburgh 16 minutes before lunch to reduce Essex to 82 for 4, but it was not to be.
Essex started the day on 26 for 0, 79 runs behind their opponents, with Billy Godleman resuming on 16 and England vice-captain Alastair Cook on 10. Godleman, however, could only add eight to his overnight total before he edged Rob White to home captain Andrew Hall at slip in the second over of the day.
Cook made it to 28 before he edged a terrific delivery from former Sri Lanka seamer Chaminda Vaas to wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien. This dramatic opening led to a period where the Essex batsmen went into their shells and were seemingly afraid to play any shots, which led to two more dismissals.
England allrounder Ravi Bopara made a painful 5 off 41 balls before Hall put him out of his misery when he forced him to nudge to O'Brien. And it got worse for Essex when Daggett's scorcher crashed into Mickleburgh's (15) off stump to leave the visitors teetering on 82 for 4 - still 23 behind.
A four hit down the ground off Jack Brooks by Pettini in the fifth over after lunch put them ahead in the match as he and Walker added over 100 between them to settle their nerves.
Walker went on to make a diligent half-century off 103 balls with a four blasted through cover off Hall as Northamptonshire's hopes of winning the match began to fade. Pettini then joined him on 50 off 113 deliveries and the pairing comfortably made it until tea with their side on 198 for 4.
With their lead stretched to 124 and the pitch doing nothing - Essex wicketkeeper and captain James Foster decided enough was enough and declared at 4:50pm. Both teams come away from this run-fest with 10 points apiece.