County Championship: Essex close to title after day three washout at Taunton
|Specsavers County Championship Division One, Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton (day three):|
|Somerset 203: van der Merwe 60; Harmer 5-105, S Cook 4-26|
|Essex 25-0: Browne 16*|
|Essex (3 pts) trail Somerset (1 pt) by 178 runs|
Essex are all but certain to win the 2019 County Championship after the penultimate day of their title decider against Somerset was abandoned.
With the Division One leaders only needing a draw, Somerset appear to have run out of time to get the win they need for a first-ever title.
Essex were 25-0 at stumps on Tuesday, replying to Somerset's 203 all out.
While Wednesday saw only light rain showers at Taunton, the outfield was deemed too damp to get started.
After several inspections, umpires Rob Bailey and Alex Wharf called it off at 16:30 BST.
Unless Somerset now take 20 wickets on the final day, Essex will pick up their second County Championship trophy in three years.
Even if they do bowl Essex out quickly, they may have to bat again to set their opponents a target - taking more overs out of the game.
The weather may have the final say on Thursday anyway, with more rain forecast for the West Country.
'We won't wave the white flag'
Despite losing more than 200 overs to the wet conditions so far, Somerset director of cricket Andy Hurry said his players would not give up hope of pulling off a remarkable final day victory.
"It's important for us to turn up in the right frame of mind," he told BBC Somerset. "We've put too much on the line, for too long a period to wave the white flag.
"This summer there's been some amazing cricket, there have been some huge twists and turns. Anything can happen, we've got to keep believing.
"They're [the players] disappointed they didn't get in any cricket today, but they're buoyant, they're up for it, there's belief there and that's important to make sure we bring that tomorrow."
Hurry said there were certain patches of the outfield causing concern, despite dry interludes during the day.
"We trust in the officials, who look after the players' interests in making sure conditions are fit for both teams," he added.
"They explained to me that on the Somerset Pavilion side of the ground it was damp all the way across with water coming up and the surface moving, so it was not fit for play."