Essex 179 and 331 drew with Derbyshire 288 and 202 for 6
Derbyshire were denied by rain after an unbeaten 90 from Wes Durston had carried them to the brink of victory over Essex in their County Championship match at Derby. Durston and skipper Luke Sutton had revived the home side with a sixth-wicket stand of 83 in 17 overs after David Masters had reduced them to 26 for 3 chasing a target of 223.
Derbyshire were 202 for 6, only 22 runs away from a second Championship win of the season with 10.5 overs left, when a downpour ended what had been an excellent contest shortly after 6pm.
Essex had started the final day 173 ahead with four wickets remaining and their chances of building a substantial lead rested with James Foster. Nightwatchman Chris Wright stayed with him for nine overs while 18 runs were added before he flicked Azeem Rafiq into the hands of midwicket.
The offspinner then got one to turn at Tim Phillips who edged a drive to slip four overs later and only nine more were added before Greg Smith had Masters caught behind for one. Foster lofted Rafiq over cover for four but became Smith's fourth victim in the next over when he edged a drive trying to keep the strike.
Derbyshire had a minimum of 74 overs to reach their target but they were soon in trouble as Masters blew away the top order. Chesney Hughes lost his off stump playing back to a ball he should have been forward to with only seven on the board and Masters struck twice in consecutive overs after lunch.
Only three runs had been added when Australia Test batsman Usman Khawaja left a ball which clipped his off stump and five runs later, Wayne Madsen was lbw to one that nipped back. At 26 for 3, the momentum was with Essex but the rest of the bowling lacked penetration or control which allowed Durston and Dan Redfern to start rebuilding the innings.
With Masters out of the attack after taking 3 for 14 in nine overs, the pair took the total to 79 before Redfern played Phillips into his thigh pad and was caught at short leg for 29. Smith made 18 off 15 balls before he chopped Wright into his stumps to shift the odds back towards the visitors but Durston and Sutton regained the initiative with some positive batting.
Durston, who was almost caught at long on for 27, reached his half-century from 69 balls and, despite two breaks for rain, the sixth wicket pair put on 83 in 17 overs to take their side to within sight of victory. But the batsmen could see dark clouds closing in over the County Ground and Sutton fell trying to clear the ropes when he hooked Wright into the hands of long leg.
There was time for just one more ball before the storm broke and this time, the umpires had no choice but to bring down the curtain on a dramatic game that will be remembered for the sacking of head of cricket John Morris half way through.