LV County Championship - Division Two
Essex 270 (R S Bopara 137) & 234-2 dec (T Westley 93 no, J E R Gallian 64, R S Bopara 54 no) v Derbyshire 239 & 266-6 (C J L Rogers 77, S D Stubbings 57)
Derbyshire (18pts) beat Essex (5pts) by 4 wkts
Essex captain Mark Pettini's decision to contrive a run chase for Derbyshire ended in defeat.
Derbyshire chased down a target of 266 for a four-wicket victory after Pettini had created the prospect of a positive result by declaring his side's second innings at 234-2.
Rain delays during the first three days left Pettini to collude with Derbyshire captain Rikki Clarke - Essex piled up 234-2 in their second innings from the first 31 overs of the final day, helped by Clarke using the occasional bowlers Steve Stubbings (0-42) and Dominic Telo with the new ball.
Telo (1-36) did account for Alastair Cook (21), while John Sadler - another Derbyshire batsman given a rare chance to turn his arm over - removed Jason Gallian (64). Rapid contributions from Tom Westley (93no) and Ravi Bopara (54no) then ensured Pettini could set Derbyshire 266 in 65 overs.
It proved too generous. Stubbings (57) and Chris Rogers set the platform with an opening stand of 78.
Rogers anchored the chase with 77 before he was sixth out - bowled by David Masters (1-43) - with the score on 228.
But a rapid seventh-wicket partnership between James Pipe (36no) and Graham Wagg (25no) got the hosts across the line with more than five overs to spare.
Derbyshire were dismissed for 239 on the third day against Essex in Derby, giving the visitors a lead of 31 runs.
However, the match was once again badly affected by the weather, with only 55.2 overs bowled.
John Sadler top scored for Derbyshire with a painstaking 49 from 171 balls, while No.10 Jon Clare added a swift 27.
Chris Wright was the pick of the Essex bowlers with 3-62.
Andre Nel struck as a frustrating day saw Derbyshire finish on 64-1 at stumps after the hosts had earlier wrapped up the Essex first-innings inside eight deliveries.
Ravi Bopara's superb first innings knock of 137 was brought to an end in the second over of the day as Tom Lungley trapped the England all-rounder in front to end the Essex innings on 270.
Nel and David Masters shared the new ball for the visitors, but the elements continued to interfere as Essex only completed 28 overs in their attempt to make as many in roads into the Derbyshire innings as possible.
The one Derbyshire wicket to fall was that of Australian opener Chris Rodgers. After previously edging just short of the slip cordon, the left-hander prodded at Nel and this time Bopara was on hand to take a sharp low catch.
Steve Stubbings (23 no) and fellow left-hander John Sadler (13 no) bravely saw out the remainder of the day as Derbyshire finished day two 206 runs behind their opponents.
Ravi Bopara made an unbeaten century as Essex fought their way to 269-9 by the close of play on the first day against Derbyshire.
Batting at number four, the England man scored more than half of his team's runs as he made 136 not out.
Bopara faced 181 deliveries, hitting 21 fours and a six, but he was offered little strong support.
England opener Alastair Cook was Essex's second-highest scorer with 27, while James Middlebrook shared in a stand of 105 for the sixth wicket before departing for just 23.
That partnership helped Essex to recover from 76-5, with James Clare the pick of Derbyshire's bowlers with 3-40 on only his third County Championship appearance.
Clare claimed all three of his wickets for just three runs in a 23-ball spell after lunch, including the prized scalp of Cook.