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    Essex has broken its century drought in style, with a draw against Durham
Essex has broken its century drought in style, with a draw against Durham
Nick Browne on his way to 184. Source: Getty Images

Essex has broken its century drought in style, with a draw against Durham

Essex's Nick Browne scored his first Championship century in over a year, while Callum Parkinson collected his maiden five-wicket haul for Durham. The Vitality County Championship at the Riverside ended in a draw.

Such an outcome had always been a possibility once the third day's play had been lost. However, having made 488 and taken a 130-run lead in the first innings, Essex made every effort to secure a victory on the final afternoon. Their efforts were ultimately thwarted by the formidable batting of Alex Lees, who made 48 not out in 128 minutes and steered his side to 131 for 2 when bad light stopped play at 4:40 PM.

The teams proceeded to shake hands shortly afterwards. At this point, David Bedingham, Lees' third-wicket partner, was unbeaten on 33.

The most notable event of the morning session was Browne's back cut to Ben Raine in the fifth over of the day, which resulted in his first hundred in 22 Championship innings. This run of poor form began in the game against Kent in April 2023.

Browne's century was also a testament to his patience in this match. He had batted for 286 minutes and faced 238 balls to reach the landmark. Five overs later, Browne reached his third batting point with another boundary. However, this was swiftly followed by the dismissal of Jordan Cox, who was bowled by Parkinson for 36 runs. This was due to Cox playing outside a ball that was deflected via the back pad to the leg stump.

Parkinson then collected his second wicket of the morning when he clean bowled Critchley for 3 with a fine ball that turned past the outside edge and hit off the stump. Noah Thain then assisted Browne in accumulating 55 runs in 11 overs before being caught at midwicket by Scott Borthwick off Colin Ackermann for 23. Essex reached lunch on 450 for 6 with Browne remaining unbeaten on 169.

The visitors sought to gain an early advantage in the afternoon session but were unable to maintain their momentum and lost four wickets in the process, including two run-outs in three consecutive balls. Browne was dismissed for 184 when he attempted a third run and failed to beat Lees' throw from fine leg. Harry Duke was then sent back by Simon Harmer, but Borthwick's return from midwicket was too sharp.

Parkinson then dismissed Harmer and Jamie Porter in the same over, finishing with 5 for 131 from 31 overs in Essex's 488 all out.

The visitors' hopes of causing a collapse were bolstered when Borthwick played across a ball from Porter and was dismissed for 4 in the third over of Durham's second innings. However, Lees and Ackermann amassed 75 runs before Ackermann was dismissed at slip by Cox off Critchley for 32. This was a similar outcome to the previous ball, which had appeared to be caught, but the umpires ruled that the ball hadn't carried.

Durham achieved 12 points from the game, while Essex received 14. This places the visitors on an equal footing with Surrey at the top of the First Division, with both teams having accumulated the same number of points. The current table standings are such that the champions lead the table purely by virtue of having taken one wicket more than Essex this season.

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