SIR Alastair Cook smoothly reached his 182nd first-class half-century around the rain as Essex totted up the runs against Hampshire at Arundel, writes Alex Smith.

Former England captain Cook appeared in little danger with his second fifty of the Bob Willis Trophy and ended the day on 75 with his side 146 for two.

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.