Rain had the final word, ruining what promised to be an absorbing finale to the LV County Championship Division Two match between Derbyshire and Kent at Derby.
The game was in the balance at tea with Kent 231 for 5, chasing a target of 329, but the weather closed in during the interval leaving the umpires with no alternative but to call the game off.
Rob Key, Sam Northeast and Ben Harmison had scored half-centuries to put Kent in contention but two wickets in four overs had left the game delicately poised until the clouds rolled in.
Kent’s chances had looked slim at the start of the day when Derbyshire struck twice in five balls to reduce the visitors to 34 for 2.
Ben Cotton found some late movement with the 10th ball of the morning to defeat Daniel Bell-Drummond’s defence and knock out his off stump but Joe Denly was guilty of a reckless shot when he edged a big drive at Footitt.
Kent had crumbled in the face of disciplined seam bowling in the first innings but this time Key and Northeast batted with impressive selectivity to leave the game finely poised at lunch.
It has been a lean season by Key’s standards but he looked increasingly secure, passing the notable milestone of 19,000 first-class runs on the way to a fifty which he reached when he forced Cotton through the covers for his ninth four.
Derbyshire’s bowling options were reduced with Shiv Thakor (concussion) and Alex Hughes (hand) off the field but they broke through 10 overs into the afternoon when Tony Palladino had Key lbw for 67 to end a third wicket stand of 105 in 36 overs.
But Northeast and Harmison kept Kent on track with Northeast cutting Cotton for his eighth four to reach his first 50 in 12 championship innings before driving leg-spinner Matt Critchley for six.
The target had been reduced to 118 when Footitt tempted Northeast into a pull which he gloved behind and the game swung back to Derbyshire in the last over before tea.
Harmison had taken three fours from Chesney Hughes’s left-arm spin but went for another drive at the penultimate ball of the session and was caught at slip.
With Kent needing 98 and Derbyshire five wickets, the game could have gone either way but the rain left both teams wondering what might have been
although Derbyshire skipper Wayne Madsen said: “Having two bowlers down, I thought it was an outstanding effort from the trio of seamers.
“Key and Northeast played really well in that first session when we picked up two quick wickets and they had to knuckle down and not give us anything and they did that.”
There was good news for Kent with Sam Billings, who dislocated a finger on the first morning, expected to play in Thursday’s Royal London Cup quarter final at the Oval and Northeast admitted: “When we lost him in the first half-hour we thought we would be fighting an uphill battle.
“It’s been a good learning experience for the young seamers and with the bat we found a little bit of form and who knows what the result would have been so there are positives to take out of the match.”