Sam Northeast, Rilee Rossouw and Aiden Markram all struck half-centuries as Hampshire built a commanding first-innings lead on day one of their opening Specsavers County Championship fixture of the season against Essex.
A classy knock from James Vince (40), who opened at the top of the order for the first time, set a positive platform and the right-hander was well-supported in the opening session by overseas batsman Markram.
The South African international looked in excellent touch on his Hampshire debut, finding the boundary with several stylish drives, on his way to a well-constructed fifty. Northeast (94*) batted beautifully too after arriving at the crease in the afternoon session and he neared a superb finish the opening day, finishing unbeaten to end the day.
He shared a valuable 117-run partnership with the destructive Rossouw (76), who crunched his first fifty of the campaign off just 66 balls, as the duo steered Hampshire to 303-4 to finish day one.
Vince, having stroked his first delivery beautifully, replicated his trademark cover drive two balls later before firmly cutting Jamie Porter for a third boundary of the over after a further two deliveries.
Despite the loss of Joe Weatherley (13) in the opening hour, Vince continued along with Markram and appeared to be on course to reach lunch unbeaten – but ended the session being struck on the pads by Ravi Bopara and dismissed LBW.
Markram, who played in three Specsavers County Championship matches for Durham last season, looked at ease from the off, making hay during a 75-run stand with Northeast as the 24-year-old reached his bow with fifty from 77 balls.
Markram departed when he edged behind to Dan Lawrence – who stood in as Essex’s wicket-keeper after Adam Wheater damaged a finger during the afternoon session – but Rossouw’s arrival meant no respite for the visitors.
He smashed four huge sixes and crashed 10 fours in a bludgeoning and eye-catching innings.
Rossouw juxtaposed Northeast who was carefully going about his own game – taking on the bad balls but watchfully blocking out anything that could cause any danger. While Rossouw scored his half century in white-ball style 47 balls, Northeast in 95 balls.
Although Rossouw departed at the hands of Simon Harmer, Northeast continued his vigil to the end of the day and reached 94 before bad light ended proceedings at 5.30pm.
Sam Northeast posted his highest Specsavers County Championship score for Hampshire as James Vince's side enjoyed another excellent day at the Ageas Bowl.
Northeast reached three figures for the second time, finishing with 169 as Hampshire posted 525 for eight declared, before Essex lost Nick Browne in 6.4 overs of their reply.
The right-hander took just five balls to convert to three figures as he whipped Matt Quinn to the boundary with a well-worked flick off his legs – his 158th ball.
Northeast utilised the trusted and uncomplicated tactic of defending the good balls and capitalising on anything too straight. As such he failed to offer up a chance to the Essex bowling attack, other than a rare false shot outside off stump.
Liam Dawson adopted a similar stance which provided further dismay and frustration to an away attack, whilst Northeast continued to plug away and reached 150 for the ninth time in his career, from 231 deliveries, as Hampshire secured maximum batting points.
Dawson reach his fifty in exactly 100 balls as the duo batted the entire morning session to put on 165 – a Hampshire record against Essex.
The centurion eventually fell on the stroke of lunch as Ravi Bopara burst through to have Northeast lbw.
Dawson was well-caught behind by substitute wicket-keeper Will Buttleman off Quinn eight overs into the afternoon session, but Hampshire continued to score runs at a steady rate, with Tom Alsop, Gareth Berg and Keith Barker all getting starts while slowly accelerating towards a declaration.
Alsop, who moved past 1,500 first-class runs, eventually departed as he attempting a paddle sweep.
Gareth Berg and Keith Barker added 46 for the eighth wicket before the former picked out Bopara at deep square leg – at which point Vince declared on 525 for eight.
Cook then became the first player to be knighted to bat in the Championship since its inauguration in 1890, as Essex batted for 6.2 overs before tea.
Opening partner Browne failed to glide into the season quite as simply as he was beaten for pace and castled by Fidel Edwards.
Bad light brought an early tea and after a delayed start to the evening session, only two deliveries were possible before the gloom forced a premature close to day two – Essex trailing by 500 runs.
Fidel Edwards blitzed through the Essex batting line-up with a five-wicket haul as Hampshire continued to dominate the Specsavers County Championship clash at the Ageas Bowl
Edwards claimed his eighth Championship five-for, ending with figures of five for 51, as his searing pace brought a good Ageas Bowl wicket to life.
Edwards’ battery helped Hampshire bowl Essex out for 164 before they were left 132 for four, still 229 behind Hampshire’s declared first innings score of 525 at close having been asked to follow-on.
During the disappointing day for Essex, Alastair Cook managed a half-century but was out in both the morning and evening sessions.
Essex’s seam attack had toiled for just over a day and a half on what looked like a slow pitch, but the Hampshire quartet of Edwards, Kyle Abbott, Keith Barker and Gareth Berg proved there was life in the wicket.
Edwards had shown his intentions on the previous evening when he dislodged Nick Browne’s stumps in a shortened session.
But it was Abbott who burst through in the fourth over of the morning session when he bowled Tom Westley around his legs.
Former Test star Cook had ticked the scoring along with the same style which saw him become England’s highest run-scorer of all-time.
He reached a half century, the 65th of his red ball career, from 78 balls, brought up with a powerful pull to the boundary.
But just four balls later he became Abbott’s 150th Championship victim when he fell into Hampshire’s leg-side trap – Cook flicking a straight delivery directly to Vince at short mid-wicket.
Dan Lawrence had batted maturely for 31 but fell to the last ball before lunch when Edwards yorked him.
In the afternoon session, wickets fell with regularity.
Ryan ten Doeschate was perhaps a tad unlucky to be given out lbw to Edwards, but the following delivery Simon Harmer saw his stumps flayed. The full hat-trick delivery was blocked by Jamie Porter.
Porter, along with Ravi Bopara, provided an hour of respite from the wicket taking but became Barker’s first wicket for his new county.
Left armer Barker moved to Hampshire from Warwickshire over the winter and had Porter and then Sam Cook lbw in successive overs.
Edwards returned to the action and ended the Essex innings when he dislodged Matt Quinn’s middle stump – the visitors bowled out for 164, with Adam Wheater unable to bat.
With a first innings deficit of 361, Essex were asked to follow-on and collapsed once again – with three wickets falling inside nine overs.
Barker started the rot again in the third over with the new ball when Browne was leg-before.
The knighted Cook then edged Abbott behind to Lewis McManus – who became the sixth wicket-keeper to don the gloves during the match.
McManus had been drafted in as a substitute fielder after Tom Alsop had damaged his hand while keeping to Edwards in the morning session, with Vince also standing in behind the stumps temporarily.
South African Abbott had Lawrence lbw to leave Essex 27 for three.
Westley and Bopara added 67 to the score before Edwards grabbed his sixth for the match when the former nicked behind.
Bopara, who unbeaten in the first innings, ended the day 60 not out having reached his half century in 57 balls.
Kyle Abbott ripped through the Essex tail as Hampshire secured innings victory an opening round of the Specsavers County Championship victory at the Ageas Bowl.
Abbott celebrated figures of five for 77 with his powerful fast bowling helping secure an innings and 87 run victory.
The win handed Hampshire a first match of the season win for a third year in a row – and just the 23rd time in their history – along with full bonus points.
Hampshire had begun the day with a simple equation – take five wickets in 90 overs, with Adam Wheater unable to bat due to the damaged thumb he sustained during the first day of the match.
But under thick grey skies and the floodlights, Ravi Bopara and Ryan ten Doeschate negotiated the opening nine overs of the day – until Fidel Edwards was introduced to the attack.
The paceman had taken five-wickets in the first innings with his searing speed and had grabbed one of the three wickets to fall the previous evening - he needed just two deliveries to tickle the outside of ten Doeschate’s bat with a strong out-swinger.
Simon Harmer, who had departed for a golden duck earlier in the match, arrived at the wicket and battled well. Bopara was the only Essex batsman who found going on a good wicket simple in both innings – with Edwards, Abbott, Gareth Berg and Keith Barker adhering to a straight, hard to put away, line.
During the first innings he had scored 37 while Essex collapsed and replicated his rear-guard again during the follow-on.
Bopara wasn’t one to be bogged down as he played his natural game and continued to accumulate, the former England all-rounder going on to reach his 26th first-class century before lunch.
But after lunch, and with Hampshire taking the second new ball immediately, Essex’s tail was rushed through.
Bopara’s vigil ended on 107 when he edged behind to Lewis McManus in the 84th over whilst Harmer, who had reached a brave and time sapping half century in 118 deliveries, fell soon after as Edwards had him lbw.
Edwards ended the match with figures of eight for 100, having taken three for 49 in the second innings.
Abbott then found the thick outside edge of Jamie Porter’s bat – with Liam Dawson diving brilliantly low to his right at second slip - before the seamer completed the resounding victory when he castled Sam Cook.