DEVON’S walking wounded hung on grimly for a draw against Dorset after being made to follow-on 222 runs behind.
Seamer Mark Wolstenholme took a career-best six for 44 as Devon were skittled for 106 in their first innings.
Second time round Devon were 90 for three when the captains shook hands with half an hour to go, realising there was no prospect of a result.
The game had been put in hold for more than a day after rain stopped play between lunch and tea on Sunday and ruled out any action on Monday.
Dorset resumed their first innings on day three at 220 for three and progressed to 328 for six declared – opener Tom Arnold finally out for 116.
Devon were three bowlers down for most of the Dorset innings as Matt Golding (ankle), Dan Pyle (groin) and Jack Popham (hamstring) all went lame in varying degrees on the first day.
As Pyle and Golding are genuine all-rounders, and Popham isn’t exactly a bunny either, Devon faced a sizeable first-innings deficit with their batting resources at less than full strength.
Dorset quickly reduced Devon to 25 for five in reply – Wolstenholme and James Hayman (2-22) getting stuck into the top order.
Zak Bess, who had been unable to bowl due to a side strain, donned the tin helmet and dug in for what was left of Devon’s innings.
Bess, whose brothers Josh and Luke were Hayman’s victims batted through for an unbeaten 52 in Devon’s total of 106 all out.
Devon could see the follow-on looming large – it’s 150 behind in three-day cricket – and to avoid defeat they needed to keep batting.
The longer Bess could nurse the tail-enders, the less time Dorset would have with another new ball in conditions that suited seamers to bowl Devon out a second time.
Pyle and Popham went out to bat with runners, which probably kept Dorset out there four or five overs more than they wanted.
Wolstenholme picked up three wickets in his second spell, leaving Sam Thompson to account for last man Popham.
Devon knew there were around 40 overs left in the day they would have to survive to avoid an innings defeat. The last time Devon were made to follow on was when Shropshire defeated them by eight wickets at Exmouth in 2005.
It didn’t start well for Devon as opener Reid Mawdsley fell to Wolsteholme for the second time in the day.
Alex Barrow and Josh Bess came and went as Devon meandered to 45 for three.
Keith Donohue, Devon’s director of cricket, said the injury problems didn’t help but were not the reason it was such a struggle to survive.
“Dorset bowled well in conditions that suited their attack and when they asked questions of our batsmen we didn’t have many answers,” said Donohue.
“Zak batted well in our first innings and we showed some fighting spirit in the second and didn’t make it easy for Dorset.
Luke Bess made it tough for Dorset second time round. He blocked for two hours and five minutes for 16 not out off 98 balls.
Dorset 328-6 (T P Arnold 116, J G Digby 70, J K H Naik 39; J J Bess 2-49), Devon 106 (Z G G Bess 52no; M A Wolstenholme 6-44) & 90-3 (J F S Dart 21no). Dorset (12pts) drew with Devon (6).