Hampshire 525 for 8 dec (Northeast 169, Rossouw 76, Dawson 64, Markram 63) beat Essex 164 (Cook 50, Edwards 5-51) and 274 (Bopara 107, Harmer 62) by an innings and 87 runs
Kyle Abbott is confident he and Fidel Edwards can form a formidable strike-bowling partnership for Hampshire this season and, on the strength of their innings-and-87-run win against Essex in the opening round of the Championship, his faith is not misplaced.
Abbott claimed a five-wicket haul in Essex's second innings after they were forced to follow on when Edwards tore through them with his own bag of five.
Between them, Abbott and Edwards took 15 wickets out of 18 (the injured Adam Wheater did not bat in either innings) as Essex were bowled out for 164 and 274 - meagre returns after the home side declared on 525 for 8, an innings which featured a host of strong batting performances, highlighted by Sam Northeasts' anchoring 169.
"I don't think we could have scripted that any better. A pretty perfect start to say the least," Abbot said of the victory, which puts Hampshire on top of the fledgling Division One table with a maximum haul of 24 points.
"Bowling with Fiddy at the other end I think I'm going to get a few wickets because of him. I can see the guys aren't fancying him. It's nice to hit a rhythm and bowl well in tandem with Fid and hopefully we can carry on and this is just the start of good things.
"Our plans are pretty much bowling straight and I think we're going carry on through this whole season, just making the batsmen play as much as possible."
Edwards' 5 for 51 in Essex's first innings was devastating, his sheer pace belying his 37 years and scattering stumps on four occasions. Only Alastair Cook, Dan Lawrence and Ravi Bopara managed to pass 30.
Bopara made a gallant 107 in the second innings as he and Simon Harmer (62) put on a 111-run stand for the sixth wicket. But, after Edwards had trapped Ryan ten Doeschate lbw with his second ball of the final day, Abbott struck with the second new ball to have Bopara caught behind off a loose shot by stand-in wicketkeeper Lewis McManus.
While Bopara and Harmer had frustrated the Hampshire bowlers throughout the morning session, the home side bided their time, using James Vince and Liam Dawson to chew through the overs with the old ball, which had become damp with dew, until the new ball was taken and Abbott and Edwards could do their thing.
Once Harmer, who had escaped unscathed after being rapped on the helmet by Edwards, was dismissed lbw, Abbott ran through the tail, with Essex wicketkeeper Wheater unable to bat after injuring the tendons in his right hand on day one and taking no further part in the match.
"He's looking good and it's nice to see him firing," Abbott said of Edwards. "He brings something totally different, especially to the tail. It's as good as having a mystery spinner to the tail when he's going upstairs and then fast at the stumps, so he's a good asset to have in our side.
"He loves his cricket and I think he enjoys this environment and if we can strike up a half-decent partnership - we're totally different bowlers but trying to do the same job at the end of the day - and if we can keep that going through the season I think we'll be in good stead."
The home side belted out their song, "Glory, glory we are Hampshire", with great gusto at the close of play, exuding the confidence Abbott said new first team manager Adrian Birrell had brought to the team. The pair worked together for four years when Birrell was assistant South Africa coach and Abbott was full of praise for Birrell and the team as a whole.
"It's easy to say now but I must admit, I felt coming into this game it's the calmest I've felt the team," Abbott said. "I've felt in the past we've had a lot of energy but I think it's been nervous energy because we've been scrapping in seasons past to stay up.
"With Aidy Birrell coming in, he's brought a great sense of calm to the change-room and just some pretty clear plans that he keeps drilling into us. It proved today that the simple plans work. Yes, it is the first game but from the feeling in the change-room I think it feels totally different and I feel a lot of the guys are playing with a lot more confidence knowing that, one, Aidy's backing us and, two, the plans he's given us are pretty simple and hopefully we can just carry on playing them out.
"We've just had a bit more of a clear path and a clear vision. That's all he's really brought in and just pumping up our tyres, I guess. He has a lot of belief in us and that's where it starts. After a performance like this we can only start backing ourselves even more."
Abbott claimed the wicket of retired England opener Cook twice, caught behind in the second innings and taken at short midwicket in the first, thanks to a leg-side trap devised by Dawson.
"Credit to Liam Dawson," Abbott said. "He came to me in my first spell from the hotel end and one had popped up, I hadn't really noticed it and he said, 'no, put one up'. He said he's seen him do it a few times. So we put Gareth Berg in there and one fell short and the second spell, coming around the wicket again from this end when we had two guys in we just thought we'd try something."
Vince even had to keep wicket during this match in which six glovemen were used because of injuries to Wheater and Hampshire regular Tom Alsop, who hurt his hand on day three. Vince filled for a handful of overs on the third day in until McManus, who was halfway through a round of golf, could get to the ground, while Dan Lawrence filled in for Essex back-up Will Buttleman.