Essex 84-3 need 452 to beat Middlesex
Ollie Rayner removed former England captain Alastair Cook with his third ball as champions Middlesex took three wickets in the morning session against Essex at Lord’s.
Chasing an academic 452 for victory, Essex were 84 for 3 at lunch.
Rayner claimed the key wicket when Cook, who had looked untroubled in reaching 37, was taken at short leg by Steve Eskinazi as he pushed forward to a ball which turned a fraction.
Essex, who began the final day on 19 for 0, lost Nick Browne (19) when he was bowled through the gate by Tim Murtagh. Cook and Tom Westley took the score to 74 with Cook playing a couple of eye-catching straight drives for four as he passed 20,000 first-class runs when he reached 16.
But Middlesex broke through when Toby Roland-Jones switched to the nursery end and trapped Westley lbw for 13 with a ball which kept a shade low.
Cook went with no addition to the score but Dan Lawrence, who top scored with 75 in Essex’s first innings, and Ravi Bopara got through unscathed to lunch, by which time the light rain which had cost two overs at the start of the day was threatening to return.