Warwickshire 517 (Lamb 173, Hain 82, Patel 51, Sibley 51, Harmer 6-143) drew with Essex 324 (Westley 141, Browne 65, Patel 6-73) and 158 for 2 (Westley 97, Cook 57*)
Tom Westley led the way with 237 runs in the match as Essex batted out for a draw against Warwickshire in the Specsavers County Championship Division One at Edgbaston.
Having been bowled out for 324, 193 behind, Essex followed on and closed the final day on 158 for two as the match petered out in the Birmingham sunshine.
Westley added a second innings 97 to his first innings 141 (266 balls, 18 fours) as he and Alastair Cook added 157 in 54 overs to shepherd their side to safety.
The draw secured Warwickshire’s Division One status, condemning Nottinghamshire to relegation, but meant that Essex relinquished the initiative to Somerset in the race for the title. On the back foot throughout the match, the visitors never recovered from their decision to bowl first which backfired spectacularly as Warwickshire piled up 517.
After resuming on the final morning on 278 for six in their first innings, Essex added just 46 as Warwickshire captain Jeetan Patel took six for 73. Patel struck twice in three balls as Adam Wheater was smartly caught by Sam Hain at short leg and Simon Harmer’s leg-stump was knocked out.
To compound Essex’s frustration, they fell one run short of a third batting point. When the last ball of the 110th over (the bonus points cut off) arrived, they were 299 for 8 but Aaron Beard drove Olly Hannon-Dalby straight to short extra cover so a potentially vital point slipped away.
Westley’s skilful resistance ended when he left one from Henry Brookes which flattened his off-stump before Patel removed Beard thanks to Liam Banks’ catch at third slip.
Following on, Essex lost Nick Browne from the fourth ball of the innings when he edged George Garrett into the slips, but Cook and Westley made measured progress on a flattening pitch. The pair reached their half-centuries from 98 and 101 balls respectively as the game headed for stale-mate.
Cook resisted the temptation to accelerate in search of his first championship century against Warwickshire (he has scored two first-class tons against them for MCC and England) but Westley advanced to within three runs of recording a second century in a match for the first time before chipping Matt Lamb to midwicket.