Nottinghamshire’s chances of qualifying to Division One in the LV=Insurance County Championship increased as the visitors secured a draw with Essex at the Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford.
Notts fast bowler Brett Hutton, on just his second outing of the season, took five for 65, including his 200th first-class wicket to bowl Essex out for 210 – and give Notts an 83 run first-innings lead.
Ben Slater killed off any potential drama by reaching 19 before bad light, and subsequently rain, ended play at 2.20pm, with the match officially abandoned at 3pm.
The top four in Group 1, Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, Essex and Worcestershire, are now separated by only nine points, although Essex have played a game more than their rivals.
Hopes for a positive result had all but been kiboshed by a washed-out second day, along with a pitch which had made scoring slow.
Notts needed 10 morning overs to wrap up the Essex first-innings, with both sides picking up a bonus point – the former for taking nine wickets and the latter for sliding past 200.
After the second new ball was taken an over into the day, Shane Snater and Simon Harmer’s eighth-wicket partnership reach exactly 50 before both fell in consecutive overs.
First, Snater was adjudged leg-before to Hutton, and then Harmer was pinned in front by Luke Fletcher – the burly seamer’s 38th wicket of an impressive campaign.
The innings concluded as Hutton made Sam Cook’s off stump go kerplunk to complete his five-wicket haul, the 10th of his career.
In reply, the visitors had no need nor intention to take any risks as they reached 44 for two before umpires Ian Blackwell and Neil Mallender ended proceedings.
Siddle provided a probing spell with the new ball and was rewarded with the edge to first slip of Ben Compton.
Ben Duckett was bowled around his legs by Snater, having eaten up 50 minutes, with Slater holding things together for an unbeaten 87-ball 19.
The conclusion of the match marks the end of a two-month red ball block, with attention now turning to the Vitality Blast which begins on Wednesday against Worcestershire.