Ravi Bopara gave the England selectors another huge nudge with his second century of the week as Essex drew their rain-affected LV= County Championship match at Northamptonshire.
Essex declared on 400-6 to claim maximum batting points, with Bopara scoring a magnificent 174 off 290 balls and his captain and wicketkeeper James Foster making 135 off 230 deliveries.
Northants then closed on 200-3 as James Middlebrook clobbered a century against his old club with 100 off 141 balls.
Resuming on 87, completed the 22nd century of his first-class career in the 14th over of the day as he hammered a four through the covers off Lee Daggett.
Foster went on to complete the 18th first-class ton of his career off 203 deliveries, before Bopara's sensational innings finally came to an end when he was caught at deep square leg off Daggett.
The Essex declaration came as soon as they reached 400 in the afternoon session and Northants then reached 43-1 at tea.
Middlebrook then took centre stage and smashed his second hundred in consecutive home games off 138 balls.
Further awful weather ensured that the third day of the LV= County Championship Division Two match between Northamptonshire and Essex was washed out without a ball being bowled on Friday.
Persistent rain at Wantage Road meant that the covers never left the field before umpires Trevor Jesty and Tim Robinson decided to abandon the day's play at 12:20pm.
The abandonment leaves England international Ravi Bopara still waiting to try and complete his second century in a week, he will resume on 87 on Saturday should conditions improve, with his team on 195-4.
Essex captain and wicketkeeper James Foster will look to build on his overnight total of 60, but the continued disruption means a result is now virtually impossible.
Ravi Bopara moved closer to his second century of the week on a rain shortened second day of Essex's County Championship match at Northamptonshire.
Only 13 wicketless overs were bowled at Wantage Road before bad light forced the players off and the rain soon followed, leading to play being abandoned for the day in the afternoon with Essex having moved from 138-4 to 195-4.
Bopara, looking to follow up the unbeaten 120 he smashed against Gloucestershire in the Clydesdale Bank 40 on Monday, moved on to 87 off 180 balls, including 15 fours.
He was ably supported by his captain and wicketkeeper James Foster's 60 not out off 118 deliveries with their partnership now standing at 138.
Essex recovered from a shaky start to the opening day of their Division Two clash at Northamptonshire thanks to an unbeaten half-century from Ravi Bopara.
The visitors had been reduced to 57-4 just prior to lunch before Bopara struck 65 not out from 129 deliveries, to take his side to 138 without further loss when rain brought an early close at Wantage Road.
Northants paceman David Willey took 2-23 and former Sri Lanka seamer Chaminda Vaas also claimed a wicket, as the hosts' attack dominated early on after Essex won the toss and elected to bat.
They lost opener Tom Westley for 12 in the fourth over when he edged Vaas to give James Middlebrook a simple catch.
Owais Shah lasted just one ball until he was run out with a direct hit by Ben Howgego at point, and Mark Pettini fell on 32 when he edged Willey to Northants wicketkeeper David Murphy.
Willey struck again to dismiss Ben Foakes' for a duck in the penultimate over of the morning but Bopara stood firm, striking 12 fours as he added some respectability to his side's total.