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Cricket: Essex slump to innings defeat at Hampshire

PUBLISHED: 15:08 08 April 2019 | UPDATED: 15:08 08 April 2019

Kyle Abbott of Hampshire celebrates taking a wicket (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Kyle Abbott of Hampshire celebrates taking a wicket (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468

Kyle Abbott ripped through the Essex tail as Hampshire secured an innings victory in the opening round of the Specsavers County Championship at the Ageas Bowl.

South African Abbott celebrated figures of 5-77 with his powerful fast bowling after Ravi Bopara had given Essex hope of pulling off an incredible draw with a century.

Once Bopara fell Essex tumbled to an innings and 87-run defeat and the win handed Hampshire an opening match success 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, Bopara and captain Ryan ten Doeschate negotiated the opening nine overs of the day, until Fidel Edwards was introduced to the attack.

West Indian paceman Edwards 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 outswinger.

Simon Harmer, who had departed for a golden duck earlier in the match, arrived at the wicket and frustrated Hampshire – who drifted with an old, lifeless ball.

Spinner Harmer was given one moment of worry by Edwards when he was struck on the helmet by a vicious Edwards bouncer, but continued quickly afterwards.

Bopara was the only Essex batsman who found going on a fairly flat 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 in the hunt to waste time as he played his natural game and continued to amass runs.

The former England all-rounder plodded along and reached his 26th first-class century before lunch.

He had needed 168 balls to reach the milestone, in an innings which included 12 boundaries. But after lunch, and with Hampshire taking the second new ball immediately, Essex’s weak tail was rushed through.

Bopara’s vigil ended on 107 when he edged behind to Lewis McManus in the 84th over.

Harmer, who had reached a brave and time-sapping half century in 118 deliveries, had added 111 with Bopara but fell soon after as Edwards had him lbw.

Edwards ended the match with figures of 8-100, having taken 3-49 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 – and completed the resounding victory when he castled Sam Cook.

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