A damp patch in the run-ups at the Castle End of the ground prevented any play on day one of Hampshire’s Bob Willis Trophy fixture with Surrey at Arundel.
Umpires Billy Taylor and Ian Gould held four inspections throughout the day but decided at 4.15pm that the dodgy area would not dry in time for action.
Both teams are keen to play, with unbeaten Essex top of the South Division aiming to boost their chance of playing in the final, while Hampshire are second and hoping to hunt them down.
Frustratingly, there was plenty of play at Hampshire’s usually home, the Ageas Bowl, where England continued to pile the runs on against Pakistan.
While further east down the south coast, a Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy warm-up between Southern Vipers and South East Stars was played undeterred.
Sir Alastair Cook smoothly reached his 182nd first-class half-century around the rain as Essex totted up the runs against Hampshire at Arundel.
Former England captain Cook appeared in little danger with his second fifty of the Bob Willis Trophy and ended the day on 75.
Only 47 overs were bowled on Sunday, after no play on the first day, as rain continued to frustrate the top two teams in the South Division.
After the entirety of the opening day was kyboshed by rain and a damp patch on the bowlers’ run-up at the Castle End of the ground, a toss was made 24 hours late.
Sam Northeast won it and elected to bowl first, and hope for a similar new ball burst to that which downed Surrey last week.
But that didn’t arrive as Paul Walter and Cook looked at ease against accurate but lifeless bowling – with the conditions not helping movement either in the air or off the pitch.
Walter rose to his audition as a first-team opener after being given to step in for the rested Nick Browne.
Walter, who has previously opened successfully in the second XI, was selected to replace the rested Nick Browne at the top of the order – on the back of scores of 33, 46, 33 and a watch winning 27 not out in the middle-order thus far in the Bob Willis Trophy.
The upgrade didn’t faze him, as he struck Brad Wheal through the covers in the third over.
Seven more offside boundaries followed, with only three of his 43 runs coming on the leg side, during an 83-run stand for the first wicket.
An early lunch was brought about by a heavy shower, with the afternoon session also washed out.
But 5pm saw the resumption of play, with 51 overs lost, and almost immediately lost Walter.
The left-handed batsman edged to a stooping Tom Alsop at first slip, with the third ball of the restart, to offer Ian Holland a breakthrough.
Around Walter, Cook had played the sort of innings which England supporters got used to watching in his 161 Test matches.
Where the innings lacked in glamour, it made up for in substance – as he struck six boundaries on his way to a 101-ball half-century.
Cook’s most aggressive period came when he twice pulled James Fuller to the boundary with perfect execution.
Mason Crane picked up his 12th wicket of the season when Tom Westley, following a 61-run stand with Cook, prodded behind to Lewis McManus with three overs left of the day.
Nightwatchman Jamie Porter guided Cook through to close without any further damage.
Sir Alastair Cook continued to write himself into English cricket’s mythology but rain looks set to force Essex and Hampshire towards a draw.
Former England captain Cook now has 66 first-class hundreds, having struck a near-flawless three figures at Arundel, before reaching his 24,000th run in first-class cricket – something only 146 men have done beforehand.
He ended on unbeaten 129, with Essex on 249 for three, with play concluding at lunch due to torrential rain making an already wet outfield sodden.
No play was able to be played on the first day, before just 47 overs on the second, another 32 overs were added to the tally on Monday – but with a terrible forecast for the final day, Essex’s 100 per cent record in the Bob Willis Trophy appears unlikely to remain.
Nightwatchman Jamie Porter managed to survive 13 morning overs before he was lbw to Ryan Stevenson for eight.
But after that, it was a case of England past and England future, as Dan Lawrence joined Cook met in the middle.
Lawrence, who was a reserve in England’s Test side this summer, has returned to his county in fine form – with a 60 against Sussex last week.
Further west down the Sussex coastline, he continued that form with a typically stylish 37 not out – which included a lovely straight six off Mason Crane.
Lawrence did ride his luck as he was twice close to being run out at the non-striker’s end while backing up.
Cook used his perfected arsenal of shots, mostly square either side of the wicket, to reach a 180-ball ton with a classic push to midwicket.
Cook is the active player with the most runs in world cricket and moved to another milestone when a single on the cusp of lunch he became the 148th player to reach 24,000 runs.
His next target on the all-time run-scoring list in red ball cricket is Australian legend Steve Waugh – who he needs another 52 to equal.
Cook was unable to add to his count, and Essex stuck a run away from a second batting point, as heavy rain put pay to any chance of returning to the wicket – with play officially abandoned at 5.35pm after a series of inspections.
Wet weather caused further frustration for Hampshire as they were forced to watch their Bob Willis Trophy clash with Essex slide into a rainy draw.
Rain fell constantly overnight at Arundel to add further squelch to the already soggy outfield before an early afternoon downpour ending any hope of play – with the shared points confirmed after a 2pm inspection.
A positive result, either way, had been made nigh impossible due to a washed-out opening day before only 78 overs, dotted around heavy showers, across the second and third days.
Both sides will take nine points, eight for the draw plus a bonus point, from the match.
Unbeaten Essex remain top of the South Division with 70 points, with Hampshire, Middlesex and Kent still mathematically able to catch them – although they will still need to score more points than the top teams in the North and Central groups to qualify for the five-day final in October.
Their last fixture of the group stage is at home to Middlesex, while Hampshire travel to Kent – both contests starting on September 6.
In the meantime, Hampshire and holders Essex will turn their immediate attention to the T20 Blast – which starts on Thursday.
Essex, having been asked to bat, reached 249 for three in the only innings of the match – an unsatisfactory run away from a second bonus point.
Sir Alastair Cook recorded only his 42nd not out in 547 first class innings.
The England great totted up 129 – his 66th red ball century and saw the 24,000th run of his illustrious career.
Dan Lawrence remained not out on 37, after Paul Walter had struck 43 in his new spot at the top of the batting order.
Hampshire found wicket-taking difficult on a slow lifeless wicket, with Ian Holland, Ryan Stevenson and Mason Crane each taking one scalp each.
With a victory and a draw, they will be mostly satisfied with the work done at their scenic temporary home 40-miles down the coast in West Sussex.
Hampshire’s five group stage matches in the Blast will be held behind closed doors at the Ageas Bowl, once the three-match Vitality T20 series against Pakistan finishes on September 8.