Hamish Rutherford batted himself back into form with 68 as Derbyshire ground out a draw on a severely rain-affected day at Chelmsford.
The New Zealand batsman had managed just one score above fifty in his previous eight Specsavers County Championship innings this summer.
But he added a 92-ball half-century to the 49 he eked out in the first innings as he held Division Two leaders Essex at bay as the match petered out into a damp draw.
It was a disappointing end for the home side after they amassed 538 when Derbyshire exercised their option to bowl first. Essex needed nine wickets at the start of the day to claim a third Championship win, but managed just three in the day’s 24 overs.
Only seven overs were possible in the morning session, during which Derbyshire advanced their score by 24 runs without loss.
Rutherford was watchful in that first mini-session, but hammered three fours in Aaron Beard’s first over in the late afternoon. The first ball was flicked off his legs to fine leg, an overpitched ball through the covers and the third through midwicket.
Tom Taylor eventually departed nearly 23 hours after he was sent in as nightwatchman, falling lbw to Jamie Porter for 19 from a second-wicket stand of 50.
His exit brought back Chesney Hughes to the crease after he retired with a migraine on Tuesday evening. He added two first ball to the 26 he already had to his name with a flick to fine leg off Porter, and then drove Porter for four through mid-off.
But the Anguillan, who had two lives in his first-innings 37, received another when Porter spilled a straightforward caught-and-bowled when he had reached 38.
It was the fourth catch Essex put down in the game, and Hughes escaped to record his fourth score over fifty.
Rutherford put on 51 for the third wicket with Hughes before he nicked Ravi Bopara through to wicketkeeper James Foster.
The out-of-form Wayne Madsen did not last long, rooted to the spot and beaten for pace by Napier.
Hughes cleared Derbyshire’s arrears in the match with a six over midwicket off a full-toss by Daniel Lawrence in his first over in first-class cricket. At that point handshakes were offered and the draw accepted.
While the match reached a soggy conclusion, it will still remain in the personal memories, as well as the history books for a while, of three players who recorded career-best performances: Nick Browne with his mammoth 255, Bopara, who claimed five for 49 in the first innings, and Shiv Thakor, who took four wickets for 107.