Cricket / County Championship: Hard lines for Harden as Somerset claim draw: Essex left with only pride to play for as Nottinghamshire are denied by weather: Michael Austin reports from Trent Bridge

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Somerset 241 and 195-6; Nottinghamshire 200-3 dec. Match drawn

SETTING pulses racing has rarely been the brief of Richard Harden, but his own was sprinting when he was marooned by the rain on 99 not out as the offer of bad light and an early tea foreshadowed a downpour and an abandoned match.

For Harden it meant personal frustration; for Somerset it meant safety from defeat as they led by only 236 with a minimum of 44 overs remaining. Harden's innings, off 176 balls, guided his side to the draw which always seemed probable once Nottinghamshire could not add to the early-morning wicket of Andrew Caddick, the nightwatchman, at 27 for 3.

Declaration equations were unrealistic, partly because 163 overs had been lost, even before the rainswept final day. It was especially sad for Harden, who is averaging around 25 this summer and is still seeking a first hundred to add to his previous 15. He made 97 against Hampshire in the opening match, an innings win that set Somerset's ambitions alight. Mark Lathwell well knows how Harden feels: he made 99 during their partnership at Southampton.

Since late May at Worcester, Harden has not scored a Championship half-century. His previous fifty was in a declaration match that Somerset lost. This time, a draw was a noble attainment, though Somerset's modest batting suggested that Nottinghamshire, in their lunchtime deliberations, made a sound decision to go for an outright win, rather than bring on the declaration bowlers. Chris Lewis was on the way to 4 for 54.

Tim Robinson, their captain, had gone to hospital for an X-ray on his right foot, an injury sustained the previous day when leg-before to a yorker from Graham Rose. Bad bruising was the verdict, which is the metaphorical problem of those now chasing Middlesex and Surrey. Despite four-day cricket, the weather still causes difficulties. Unless, like the metropolitan pair at the top of the table, you win in three days or a little over.

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