EMERALD Headingley saw its first ever four-day abandonment as the Specsavers County Championship match between Yorkshire and Essex was called off at 10am after two inspections.

Umpires Ian Gould and Richard Illingworth reported no significant improvement to the outfield during their second inspection on day four, leaving both sides with five points for the draw.

This is certainly not the first time the counties have been involved in a match without a ball bowled, and not the first at Headingley. But that was in the era of three-day cricket.

These two sides suffered a three-day Championship abandonment at Sheffield’s Abbeydale Park in 1985 when, ironically, Essex were defending champions.

The last abandonment at Headingley came in 1967 between Yorkshire and Leicestershire.

Yorkshire are confident, however, that Friday’s clash with Nottinghamshire here will not be affected.

“We should be fine because the forecast is good for the week,” said their coach Andrew Gale.

“Someone told me it’s going to be warmer than Ibiza this week!

“That’s the sort of weather we need to dry the ground off. If that comes, we’ll be fine.

“I am confident it will go ahead. The outfield has got better, but only slowly. We just haven’t had any drying weather. This is the first time the sun’s been out, it’s been above 10 degrees and there’s been a bit of wind.

“That rain last night set us back. If it hadn’t rained last night, I reckon we would have played some cricket.”

Gale went on: “It’s been incredibly frustrating.

“Since we got back from South Africa (March 20), we’ve hardly had any time outside, never mind game time.

“But I’ve just said to the boys ‘There’s no need to panic’. They’re all in a good place mentally, they’ve worked hard in the indoor nets. We just need a bit of time in the middle now and we’ll be off and running.”

The damage was done to the outfield prior to this game, with minimal rain fall during the four days.

Unfortunately for both sides, the recent wet weather in Leeds meant the ground staff were unable to get any drying machinery on the problem area in fear of bringing up more water and making it worse.

Essex coach Anthony McGrath, formerly of Yorkshire, said: “I’m no expert, but they're saying there’s nothing they can do to improve the state of the outfield. We have to go on what they say.

“But, from mine and my players’ point of view, we’d have at least liked to see some work going on out there. It was almost conceding that we weren’t going to play without doing anything.

“It’s the start of the season and everyone is frustrated. Given we've had an hour’s rain in four days and we’ve not had a ball bowled, it’s very disappointing.

“The most frustrating thing is not only for players, but the supporters who've travelled up from Chelmsford and have had to book hotels and everything that goes with it.”

Essex return to Chelmsford to face last season’s runners-up Lancashire on Friday.