County Championship - day three (close)

Somerset 203 v Essex 25-0

Was this the day the dream died?

Yes, this has been a summer of cricketing miracles - the World Cup final, Stokes and Leach at Headingley, a dramatic T20 finals day - but as the rain wiped out any prospect of play during the third day of this title decider it was hard to summon much in the way of belief that, by this time tomorrow, Somerset will be lifting their first ever County Championship title.

To do so, they need to take all 20 Essex wickets on the final day - while also fitting in their own second innings.

Somerset's director of cricket Andy Hurry is remaining defiant, insisting the mood in the camp is "buoyant" despite the obvious "frustration and disappointment" of missing out on play today.

“It’s definitely not the end," Hurry said.

“Our challenge has become stiffer but, having demonstrated our courage and belief all season, it is important we don’t lose that overnight.

“Whatever opportunities we get in front of us tomorrow, it is vital we turn up in the right frame of mind – which I know the players will.

“We have put too much on the line for too long a period to wave the white flag and that is not what we are about.”

It was a hugely frustrating day for players and supporters, of whom there were plenty in the ground expectantly awaiting updates.

A particularly cruel twist of fate came at 2.30pm, when a fresh band of rain fell during the second inspection of the day and further delayed any prospects of a start time.

There was no further rain through the afternoon but umpires Rob Bailey and Alex Wharf were concerned about the playing surface by the Somerset Pavilion which was, in their view, “damp all the way across, bringing up water and moving.”

When play was abandoned for the day at 4.40pm, the announcement was met with a few boos and several hundred more groans as admirable patience was not rewarded.

“There is still belief there [in the dressing room],” Hurry said.

“It’s really important to make sure we bring that tomorrow.

“This summer, there has been some amazing cricket and some huge twists and turns. Look at last weekend [finals day] – anything can happen. We have to keep believing.

“Let’s not forget a couple of seasons ago here against Lancashire we were chasing 77 and we didn’t get the right result then.

“They are the sort of experiences you can relate back to – it is important to keep that belief.”

If play starts on time tomorrow, perhaps belief will be back among the crowd.

Many will have taken time off work to be in Taunton for the final day of the season, particularly when it became clear this match would be a title decider.

It could, of course, become an anti-climax - in many ways, with the best part of three days washed out, it already is. There could be more rain, or Essex could see out the first session without alarm and hands could be shaken by early afternoon.

But what will keep those supporters coming through the gates tomorrow is the belief that maybe, just maybe, it might not be over.

If the weather stays dry, if Jack Leach is at his best, if Essex begin to get complacent... plenty of 'ifs', but cricket watchers in Taunton have seen their fair share of dramatic finishes during summers of both the near and distant past.

Another one tomorrow would surely top the lot.