Worcestershire 351 for 6 dec (Mitchell 156) drew with Essex 215 (Westley 90, Shantry 7-69)

Captain Daryl Mitchell completed the 10th Championship century of his career as Worcestershire nudged ahead of Essex in the Division Two table after a rain-hit draw with their promotion rivals at New Road.

With more than 200 overs lost because of the weather, the home side occupied the crease throughout the last day with Mitchell making 156 towards a declaration in the last hour at 351 for 6. This fulfilled all objectives in taking them into a lead of 136 while accruing four batting points and restricting their opponents to two for bowling.

Essex stuck to their task but the ball did not swing as it had done for Worcestershire's Jack Shantry when the left-arm seamer posted a personal-best Championship return of 7 for 69 in dismissing the visitors for a below-par 215.

There were some uneasy moments for Mitchell early in the day but nothing that could shake his temperament as he set about building his first Championship hundred since last August. The first 50 was easier on the eye, with nine fours in 66 balls, but the next phase took twice as long as he became becalmed, albeit with less than half of the strike, through 15 overs in the 90s.

A square drive off Sajid Mahmood took the pressure off as he moved into three figures with his 15th boundary and there was another change of gear as he accelerated to a third 50 from 53 balls.

After the early season domination by seam bowlers, it was the turn of batsmen to enjoy a day in warm sunshine, although for most of the time the scoring rate was pegged at little better than three runs an over. The only wicket to fall in the morning was that of Matt Pardoe, caught at short leg for 17 when offspinner Tom Westley nipped in for one over to break an opening stand of 62.

However, there was to be a lot more toil for Essex as Mitchell shared in only the second and third century partnerships for Worcestershire this season. Moeen Ali hit 10 fours in making 54 out of 127 before he was caught at extra cover off Graham Napier and Thilan Samaraweera played with customary efficiency as the third wicket yielded 107 in 28 overs.

Essex finally claimed some reward with the new ball as David Masters took three wickets before Samaraweera, unbeaten with 70, took his team to their target of 350 with 13 balls to spare. Masters began his spell by bowling Mitchell after the opener had batted for a little over five hours.