County Championship: Lancashire fall short in title race with draw

England captain Alastair Cook
England captain Alastair Cook was making his third Championship appearance of the season for Essex
County Championship Division Two, Chelmsford
Essex 394 & 138-3: Bopara 52no
Lancashire 310: Reece 82, Hameed 63, Prince 51; Bopara 3-40
Match drawn
Essex 12 pts, Lancashire 11 pts
Match scorecardexternal-link

Lancashire's slim Division Two title hopes were finally brought to an end at Chelmsford as they were forced to settle for a draw with Essex.

After resuming on 131-2, Lancashire were bowled out for 301, collecting the third batting bonus point they needed.

But, despite losing England captain Alastair Cook cheaply for the second time in the match, Essex rallied.

Ravi Bopara hit an unbeaten 52 as Essex reached 138-3, rendering the result of Surrey's game at The Oval immaterial.

As it turned out, a Lancashire victory would have given them the title, but the 2011 county champions started the day knowing they had only a slim chance of adding to the silverware they won in August when they triumphed in TwentyT20 cricket for the first time.

Not far to go now for ageless Chappie
Glen Chapple's third scalp of the match leaves Lancashire's 41-year-old former title-winning captain just 13 short of 1,000 first-class wickets.

They had overnight Luis Reece caught behind for 82 before Ashwell Prince, given a guard of honour in his final match for Lancashire, struck an entertaining 51 from only 38 balls.

But Ravi Bopara (3-40), young spinner Aron Nijjar (2-33) and Graham Napier (2-49) then got stuck in as Lancashire lost their last six wickets in 15 overs for just 29 runs.

Lancashire needed quick wickets themselves and when they had Essex at 10-2, they briefly looked to be in with a chance.

England fast bowler James Anderson removed Nick Browne and Glen Chapple did the same to Cook's hopes of batting practice ahead of the forthcoming Pakistan series in the Persian Gulf.

But by tea, Essex had rallied and, although they lost Tom Westley for 34, Bopara and Jesse Ryder (38 not out) saw out time until hands were shaken on the final day of the season.

Acting head coach Chris Silverwood told BBC Radio Essex:

"It's been frustrating because we lost so much time to the weather. But we got enough points out of the game to ensure that we finished in third place.

"That was something we talked about when I took over four games ago. I said to them when I took over that I wanted to set the bar for next season in the remaining games this year.

"The results, and the way we've played, show how well they've responded and gone about their work. I set challenges to the players both individually and as a team and they responded positively."

Lancashire coach Ashley Giles told BBC Manchester:

"Congratulations to Surrey. They have played some excellent cricket throughout the season, they have won more games than us and they deserved to win the title.

"It is a bit disappointing to finish runners-up because we led the table for most of the summer but we can learn lessons from that as well.

"We still need to understand where we get better and how we can improve and we'll get together next week and start to look at that."