Mickleburgh puts Essex in command
Jaik Mickleburgh's unbeaten fifty helped Essex increase their lead to 252, before the rain arrived at Emirates Old Trafford to set up an intriguing final day in their LV= County Championship game against Lancashire.
The hosts had moved from 120 for two to 203 for three when inclement weather brought about an early end to the day's play.
It had not been such a good start to the day for the visitors when, after Essex had added just 12 more runs, England skipper Alastair Cook edged a fine lifting delivery from Kyle Hogg to wicketkeeper Gareth Cross and was dismissed for 60.
Mickleburgh and Mark Pettini made light of the blow, however, and had added an unbroken 71 runs for the fourth wicket by lunch; both played with composure and polished ease against an accurate Lancashire attack.
The Red Rose bowlers could not prevent Mickleburgh reaching his first championship half-century of the season, achieved with a back-foot push for two off Wayne White.
A couple of overs later, the Essex pair edged the visitors past 200 but were halted from making further progress by the unhelpful weather conditions in the north west.