Taylor helps Gloucestershire to avoid defeat
Essex 363 and 288 for 5 dec drew with Gloucestershire 264 and 231 for 5
Chris Taylor and Will Gidman, plus a big helping hand from the weather, enabled Gloucestershire to earn a draw against Essex in their County Championship clash at Colchester.
After being set a huge victory target of 388 in 88 overs, the visitors finished on 231 for 5, with Taylor striking an unbeaten 103 and Gidman making 57 in an unbroken stand of 133 spanning 106 minutes.
They had come together with their side on 98 for five and went on to defy a succession of bowling changes to guide their team to safety, although rain deprived Essex of 28 overs in which to force a victory that would have kept alive their slender promotion aspirations. The visitors' hopes of launching their victory bid on a sound footing were soon dashed.
Richard Coughtrie departed without a run on the board, caught in the slips by Ryan ten Doeschate off the bowling of Maurice Chambers, and David Masters snared two more wickets before the 50 was raised.
Kane Williamson was caught behind by James Foster for 19 and then Tom Westley's safe pair of hands at second slip accounted for opener Chris Dent (16). Gloucestershire avoided further mishap before lunch, taken at 71 for three, but were plunged into further trouble immediately afterwards by Graham Napier.
First he had skipper Alex Gidman (18) easily caught by wicketkeeper Foster from a thin edge and then breached the defences of Hamish Marshall (seven) to leave the stumps in disarray. By this stage, with half of their side back in the pavilion cheaply, the best the visitors could hope for was a draw. A total of 62 overs still remained, with their last recognised pair together.
Taylor, having come in at the fall of the second wicket, was now well entrenched and completed a fighting half-century that contained half a dozen fours. At the other end, Will Gidman was offering obdurate support as they carried the total to 131 before rain forced a suspension in play.
When play did resume, Essex were left with 22 overs to try to force victory but Taylor and Gidman denied them with considerable ease whilst putting together an unbroken partnership of 133.
Earlier in the day, Essex added a further 45 runs from six overs before declaring on 288 for five immediately after Jaik Mickleburgh was run out for 84 - a knock that included eight boundaries. Skipper Foster finished unbeaten on 46 from 40 balls, but not before he was involved in the final of several heated incidents in this match.
It featured Jon Lewis, who appeared to obstruct Foster as he completed a single. Angry words were exchanged before umpire Steve Gale stepped between the two players and the game continued.
On the second day, Alex Gidman had angrily remonstrated with the same official after being given out lbw whilst on the opening day, Gale had reversed his decision against Ten Doeschate - much to the annoyance of the Gloucestershire players. Essex finished with 10 points and Gloucestershire eight points.