Sir Alastair Cook completes century for Essex against Hampshire before downpour

Essex's Alastair Cook bats during day three of the Bob Willis Trophy match at 1st Central County Gro

Essex's Alastair Cook bats during day three of the Bob Willis Trophy match at 1st Central County Ground, Hove. - Credit: PA

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.

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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.

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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.

Essex batsman Sir Alastair Cook said: “It is a good wicket to bat on. It is very sub-continent like wherein the first few overs you wonder where your next run is coming from because it is hard to time the ball.

“When Dan Lawrence was batting he was like ‘where am I scoring?’ and I told him ‘trust me, it will come to you, and once you get in it is almost a case of not making a mistake – which suits my game.

“I’ve batted with ‘The Kid’ [Lawrence] a few times and we have seen this winter that he has taken huge strides as a batsman.

“For a 23-year-old he has been around Essex and played some crucial innings on some tough wickets and been part of a winning side.

“His development is going as well as it can do, and is ready for an England chance whenever it might come.

“When you are out there you are just thinking about trying to play and trying to bat, so no [you don’t think about the records].

“It has been a while [May last year, vs Kent] since I got a hundred and they are always nice to get.

“Test hundred are always more satisfying, with the nature of playing for England, but any time you score runs is nice, especially when you go home and make a contribution.”

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