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Cricket: Essex on back foot at Hampshire

PUBLISHED: 08:11 07 April 2019 | UPDATED: 08:11 07 April 2019

Essex celebrate taking the wicket of Hampshire's Aiden Markram during day one of Specsavers County Championship Division One match at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton.

Essex celebrate taking the wicket of Hampshire's Aiden Markram during day one of Specsavers County Championship Division One match at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton.

PA Wire/PA Images

Essex bowler Matt Quinn admitted it had been another tough day at Hampshire as the 2017 champions closed 500 runs behind their hosts.

Having seen Sam Northeast lead Hampshire to 525-8 declared, Essex lost Nick Browne cheaply and were 25-1 when bad light stopped play early.

And Quinn is hoping they can fight back on Sunday, saying: “It was a pretty tough surface and cold and as a group we didn’t bowl at our best.

“There wasn’t a huge amount of movement, with the new ball there was a little bit. I think with the new balls they’ve brought in this year they are quite soft and with the moisture around they just got softer.

“It was tough conditions to bowl in early in the season. Hopefully we can put a few runs on the board and with the bad light around it is only going to take time out the game.

“We’ll come back in the morning and try and bat the whole day.”

Northeast posted his highest Specsavers County Championship score for Hampshire as Essex endured another testing day at the Ageas Bowl, having suffered a mixed debut campaign in 2018 having moved from Kent.

He eventually ended up with 169, after ending day one on 94 following half centuries from Aiden Markram and the explosive Rilee Rossouw.

Northeast took just five balls to convert to three figures as he whipped Quinn to the boundary with a well-worked flick off his legs – his 158th ball.

And he utilised the trusted and uncomplicated tactic of defending the good balls and capitalising on anything too straight, not offering 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 which had done little wrong.

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.

Essex were rewarded with the wicket of Northeast on the stroke of lunch; like James Vince on the first day, Ravi Bopara burst through to have Northeast lbw.

Dawson lasted eight more overs after lunch before he was caught behind by substitute wicket-keeper Will Buttleman off Quinn – who posted his side’s best figures of the innings, three for 104.

Buttleman had been rushed to the Ageas Bowl overnight after Adam Wheater damaged his thumb during the first day – after awkwardly taking a delivery while standing up to Sam Cook.

Wheater underwent an operation on Saturday morning and will be unavailable for six weeks.

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 spunky paddle sweep, but only managed to lob up to Sir Alastair Cook.

Cook dropped Berg on 20 as the eighth wicket with Barker added 46 before Berg picked out Bopara at deep square leg – at which point Vince decided to declare.

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.

England’s all-time leading Test run scorer got off the mark with an offside push first ball before reaching the boundary with a powerful legside glance off former international foe Fidel Edwards.

Opening partner Browne failed to glide into the season quite as simply as he was beaten for pace and castled by West Indian fast bowler 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.

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