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Essex protect 36-point cushion as rain thwarts Lancashire

Lancashire 290 (Hameed 88, Porter 5-73) drew with Essex 202 for 8 (McLaren 4-45)

The Specsavers County Championship clash between league leaders Essex and second-placed Lancashire ended in a draw after rain wiped out almost four sessions of the match at Old Trafford.

Both sides took nine points as Essex maintain a 36-point lead in the Championship with three matches remaining.

The game ended at 16.10pm after Essex declared in order to prevent Lancashire from picking up another bowling point, with both captains then shaking hands on a draw.

It transpired that Lancashire then also declared without batting and those two declarations took 20 minutes out of the game and moved the match into the last hour.

Therefore both captains were able to agree that a result was not possible and the match could end in a draw.

A wet outfield after heavy overnight rain meant that there was no play possible before lunch on the final day.

When play did get underway at 13.40pm, Essex resumed their first innings on 115-4 in reply to Lancashire's 290 and quickly passed their first target which was to avoid the follow-on.

From there it was largely a battle for bonus points and Lancashire struck four times before tea to secure their second bowling point which moved them ahead of Essex by four points to three in the match.

Ryan McLaren dismissed Adam Wheater and Ashar Zaidi before Tom Bailey bowled James Foster as Lancashire took three wickets in four overs to reduce Essex to 151-7.

Jordan Clark then went on to trap Simon Harmer for 11 which triggered an early tea with Essex still 28 runs short of the 200 runs required to earn their first batting point.

Ninth-wicket pairing Paul Walter and Jamie Porter guided the leaders past that point with the final delivery before the new ball was due.

Lancashire captain Ryan McLaren took the new ball and at that stage, Essex promptly decided to declare on 202-8, trailing by 88 runs after the first innings.

That meant that Lancashire couldn't get that final bowling point to move ahead in the match and the gap between the top two remains the same as it was before this game.

Essex are at Warwickshire next week while Lancashire travel down to Taunton to face Somerset.