Essex recorded their highest second innings score in 13 years as their County Championship Division Two match with Northamptonshire finished in a draw at Wantage Road.
Ryan ten Doeschate’s unbeaten 76 guided the visitors to 506/9 declared, Rory Kleinveldt taking 5-138, and after setting Northants a target of 339 in 42 overs, the hosts reached 115/3 before the teams shook hands with nine overs remaining.
Having taken their partnership to 258, Tom Westley and Jesse Ryder fell for 179 and 124 respectively in the morning, although three dropped catches hampered any lingering thoughts of a Northants push for victory.
Ryder resumed on 90 and took only three overs to reach the mark for the first time this season, but only after his crisp drive to reach three figures burst through the hands of Olly Stone at cover.
Westley and Ryder’s stand was Essex’s highest for the fourth wicket since 2006, but was finally broken when Westley gloved a rising Kleinveldt delivery behind, just six short of his career best.
With the lead at 217, Northants might have sniffed a chance of dismissing the hosts before lunch, but ten Doeschate was dropped by Peters at first slip and Foster edged between Kleinveldt and Alex Wakely, Steven Crook the unlucky bowler on both occasions.
Those lives allowed ten Doeschate and Foster to share a stand of 82 which ensured there would be no afternoon run chase, the former reaching a third consecutive second innings half-century in as many Championship appearance this season.
Crook returned to have Foster caught behind for 35, with Graham Napier only making a single before falling in the same manner, and Adeel Malik was trapped lbw by Rob Keogh in the following over.
Having taken all three wickets that fell on the third evening, Kleinveldt completed his second five wicket haul in Northants colours as David Masters fended a short delivery to gully without score.
Ten Doeschate lofted Keogh for six to take Essex past 500, as the visitors recorded their highest second innings score since the 514/4 declared against Glamorgan at Chelmsford in 2002.
With Peters unable to open the batting following his earlier dropped catch, Northants’ captain Alex Wakely opened with Rob Newton and the hosts batted out the remaining of the game with just one slight wobble at the ten over mark, as two wickets fell in five balls.
Wakely drove Reece Topley straight to cover to fall for 13 before Rob Keogh lasted just four balls, making three before edging Napier to Nick Browne at first slip. Ravi Bopara trapped Rob Newton LBW for 33, but Richard Levi’s 53 not out, following his first innings 168, saw Northants to the close together with Josh Cobb.
After their fourth home draw from four Championship games at Wantage Road this season, Northants captain Alex Wakely bemoaned the lack of life in the Wantage Road surface.
“It wasn’t ideally what we were looking for as a pitch. We wanted a pitch with a bit more life in it, a bit like the Gloucestershire game we played here early in the season.
“I’ve been saying for a while about the top five getting big hundreds and Rich [Levi] played outstandingly, as good as I’ve seen him play and we’re playing pretty good cricket, people are chipping in and it’s coming together.
“We’re just lacking that win, we played the perfect game against Leicester and in one point in this game we thought we’d be pushing for victory, but each innings the pitch got better and better.”
Essex head coach Paul Grayson admitted that after three consecutive Championship defeats he was happy to come away with a draw and praised the character of his side in the final two days.
“It was hard work. Northants dominated those first two days and we had to show our character these last two days to save the game.
“Tom Westley played a brilliant knock, probably the best I’ve seen him play and Jesse equally as well, a slightly different type of innings as he had to play second fiddle.
“It’s a draw after losing three on the trot and there’s still areas for us to improve, particularly in the first innings, as 276 on that surface wasn’t good enough, but there have been positive signs in the last two days.”