Bopara closes in on hundred before rain
Essex 195 for 4 (Bopara 87*, Foster 60*) v Northamptonshire
Ravi Bopara moved closer to his second century of the week on a rain-shortened second day of Essex's County Championship match at Northamptonshire.
Only 13 wicketless overs were bowled at Wantage Road before bad light forced the players off and the rain soon followed, leading to play being abandoned for the day in the afternoon with Essex 195 for 4.
Bopara, pushing for an England recall for the upcoming one-day series against the West Indies, moved on to 87 off 180 balls, including 15 fours. He will be looking to follow up the unbeaten 120 he smashed against Gloucestershire in the Clydesdale Bank 40 on Monday when play resumes on Friday.
He was ably supported by his captain and wicketkeeper James Foster's 60 not out off 118 deliveries with their partnership now standing at 138.
Essex began the day on 138 for 4 with Bopara resuming on 65 and Foster on 25 after they had helped salvage what was a faltering innings on the first day, with the first four wickets falling for just 57.
However, the start of proceedings was delayed by 15 minutes as the ground staff made sure everywhere was dry enough for play to begin. Bopara and Foster completed their century partnership in the third over of the day when Foster bludgeoned Jack Brooks through midwicket for four. Foster then pulled another boundary over the same area of the field off Lee Daggett to go past 50 off 101 balls.
Umpires Trevor Jesty and Tim Robinson took the decision to take the players off for bad light just after midday despite neither of the batsmen looking in any trouble. By then the visitors had added 57 to their overnight total with the last over seeing Bopara hit three fours off Daggett.
The first two of them were tremendous shots through the covers but he got away with his third, a thick top edge that flew over the slips and through third man.
Half an hour after the players left the field, rain began to fall, leading to the Northants ground staff bringing on the covers and lunch being brought forward. However, with the rain persistent, it soon became clear the players would not be reappearing and the umpires finally admitted defeat and called off proceedings at 2.30pm.
With just 63 overs played over the first two days, a draw already looks inevitable, a result that does not really favour either side.