Cricket Round-Up: Wet finish for Essex

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SO FAR as sign-offs go, it was pretty inauspicious - although Essex had far greater things on their mind than a final Sunday League outing against Gloucestershire, writes Barrie Fairall.

Today, Hampshire hit Chelmsford and 22 points will be enough to see Essex retain the Championship. Yesterday, meanwhile, Gloucestershire could enjoy their moment of glory as they ran up 239 for 8 from 40 overs, their highest in the League this season.

Dean Hodgson (73) and Mark Alleyne (68) set up the win with a stand of 137 against a depleted attack and Essex, already guaranteed a second-place finish behind Middlesex, were then held to 106 for 4 from 24 overs before the rain arrived to lose out on scoring rate.

Elsewhere, Northamptonshire survived the absence of the suspended Allan Lamb for a home win over Warwickshire. Trevor Ward's 73 off 47 balls saw Kent beat Sussex by 76 runs at Canterbury, but Peter Bowler's Sunday-best 91 was not enough of an umbrella against Lancashire at Old Trafford.