Essex v Hampshire, Chelmsford, 1st day July 19, 2012

McKenzie's day-long vigil for Hants

Kent 303 for 6 (McKenzie 134*) v Essex

Opener Neil McKenzie batted throughout the day to inspire Hampshire on the opening day of their County Championship Division Two clash against Essex at Chelmsford.

McKenzie, the 36-year-old South African, was unbeaten on 134 during an innings that spoke volumes for his determination and concentration, which ensured his side claimed the upper hand as they finished on 303 for 6 after winning the toss. He has so far defied the attempts of seven bowlers to remove him during an effort that has so far spanned 270 deliveries and brought him 13 boundaries.

The eleventh boundary, a superb drive through extra-cover off Ryan ten Doeschate, brought up his century after nearly five hours and highlighted why Hampshire made great efforts to sign him for championship duty. He was only originally set to play Friends Life t20 matches this season, but was recently persuaded to make himself available for four-day action.

His main accomplice was Sean Ervine. Together, after the fourth wicket had gone down at 106, they put on 110 in 28 overs. Ervine struck seven fours in his innings of 55, which was brought to an end when he played on against David Masters, easily the pick of the Essex bowlers. But the stand should have been broken after it had yielded just 10 runs because Harbhajan Singh, diving forward from second slip, failed to accept a catch offered against Masters.

It proved a day Harbhajan will want to forget. In addition to spilling that catch, he went wicketless throughout 28 overs while conceding 73 runs.

Following Ervine's departure, Michael Bates contributed 27 in a sixth wicket stand of 72 before he gloved a Graham Napier delivery to diminutive wicketkeeper Adam Wheater while attempting to take evasive action.

But no-one was able to remove McKenzie from the scene although an opportunity was spurned just before the close when Wheater leapt high but failed to grab the chance off Napier.

Masters, Napier and ten Doeschate have so far claimed two wickets each, the latter picking up his successes in the space of six deliveries just before lunch. Bilal Shafayat was trapped lbw to end an entertaining 31 while Simon Katich was caught behind by a ball that left him. It was a double strike that left Hampshire 70 for 3 at the interval and Essex reflecting on a satisfactory morning's work. But the day ended with Hampshire - and particularly the rock-like McKenzie - in charge.