Rain comes to Middlesex's rescue

The Bolton News: Sam Robson could make his England debut against Sri Lanka next week Sam Robson could make his England debut against Sri Lanka next week

Middlesex retained their lead at the top of LV= County Championship Division One as their match at Durham finished in a stalemate on a rain-ravaged day nationwide.

Opener Sam Robson was prevented from further pressing his claims for a Test debut - the England squad will be named on Thursday morning - but no-one from Middlesex was complaining as bad weather came to the visitors' rescue at Chester-le-Street.

On what was the final day of all but one of this week's round of matches, Middlesex faced the prospect of trying to bat out time from 90 for two following on - with opener Robson unbeaten on 42.

A defiant century might have given the Australia-born batsman's hopes of a Lord's debut next week a further boost.

But he did not get the opportunity as rain prevented any play, and Middlesex therefore went clear of Yorkshire again thanks to a draw.

Rain also saved Lancashire the hassle of trying to bat all day against Somerset at Old Trafford, where the hosts were following on too.

They remained 95 for three, and Somerset were denied a shot at victory.

The bad weather did ease for a time down south, but Sussex and Nottinghamshire still ended up with a draw for their trouble at Hove.

The hosts, needing a notional 434 for victory, closed on 198 for two.

Chris Nash (83) and Luke Wells (73) shared an opening stand of 161 before both falling to fit-again England seamer Stuart Broad - and then there was time for Matt Prior to have 40 minutes of batting practice and close unbeaten on 19 on the eve of his possible return to the Test squad.

In Division Two, table-toppers Hampshire narrowly failed to beat the rain and bottom club Derbyshire.

A rush of wickets from James Tomlinson (three for 16), after a delayed start, put the visitors in trouble but they held on to close 238 runs adrift on 107 for eight.

Second-placed Worcestershire were also unable to close out a victory, between the showers at The Oval - where Surrey, following on, reached the safety of 240 for five.

Zafar Ansari could turn his second half-century of the match into only 62, but there was further defiance from Steve Davies (77) and Jason Roy.

It finished honours even too between Essex and Glamorgan at Chelmsford.

There were no more wickets for Reece Topley (four for 67), who nonetheless finished with 10 in the match as the visitors lost their last two to be bowled out for 250 - Jim Allenby last to go for 79.

Essex then stumbled to 28 for two in the six overs which were possible.

There was no play on day three between Leicestershire and Gloucestershire at Grace Road, the only match still to finish.

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