Rain hampers Essex surge
Essex 307 and 155 for 4 lead Lancashire 184 by 278 runs
Essex's bid for a second County Championship win of the season was hampered by rain at Old Trafford today. In their attempts to avenge Lancashire's early season win at Chelmsford, the visitors had gained a lead of 278 when weather forced the players off the field at 3pm on day three.
Matthew Walker and Ryan ten Doeschate were in the midst of an unbroken fifth-wicket partnership, adding 49 and taking their side's second-innings total to 155 for 4 in the 63rd over.
Captain Mark Pettini would have hoped for an hour's bowling before the close, but instead his batsmen will probably have to return to the crease in the search for quick runs tomorrow. There is still time for Essex to force a win, but Lancashire will be a lot happier than they could have been overnight.
The home side only claimed three wickets just under 50 overs before the disruption, but Essex added just 129 runs, with 46 runs from 29 overs in the morning session. England hopeful Ravi Bopara, playing in his first Championship match of the summer, looked completely out of sorts during his 53-ball innings of five.
Opener Jaik Mickleburgh made his way to 64 off 146 balls, including seven fours, but he was run out by Steven Croft from cover during the shortened afternoon session.
Kyle Hogg took Lancashire's first wicket of the day - his second of the innings - when he had night-watchman Chris Wright caught behind by Luke Sutton for eight. Bopara then edged former West Indies international pace bowler Daren Powell to Paul Horton at first slip to leave the score at 61 for 3.
Essex looked at their most positive when Walker and ten Doeschate, who hit 85 in the first innings, came together, and the latter even planted Hogg over midwicket for six on the way to 31 not out off just 30 balls. When the rain arrived left-handed Walker had reached 36 off 85 balls.
Hogg's 2 for 45 from 16 overs was the pick of the Lancashire bowling figures, while Powell had 1 for 14 midway through his 10th over. Meanwhile, Andrew Flintoff batted in the nets at Old Trafford for around half an hour this morning as he continues his recovery from knee surgery.