Hampshire 298 for 7 v Essex
Former England allrounder Dominic Cork hit an unbeaten 54 as Hampshire had the better of the opening day with Essex at the Rose Bowl. Cork hit five fours and a six off 104 balls as Hampshire made the best of winning the toss on an easy-paced wicket to reach 298 for 7 from 96 overs at stumps.
Cork featured in a stand of 100 in 30 overs with South African Neil McKenzie as Hampshire recovered from a middle-order stutter. Nic Pothas, standing in again as captain after more injury problems to Dimitri Mascarenhas, chose to bat first and would have been happy with the progress his team made despite the early loss of opener Jimmy Adams.
Adams was caught behind off Maurice Chambers with only nine on the board but Michael Lumb and Michael Carberry repaired the damage until Pakistani spinner Danish Kaneria came into the attack. Lumb was bowled by Kaneria for 31 with the score at 84 and then David Marsters put paid to Carberry 18 runs later. Carberry, who made his England debut against Bangladesh in the winter, hit nine fours in making exactly 50 before mistiming a drive.
James Vince, one of Hampshire's promising young batsmen, was in superb touch with nine fours in his 44 before Chambers clutched a return catch at 168. Kaneria soon accounted for Sean Ervine and then Ravi Bopara trapped Pothas to leave Hampshire 190 for 6.
But the dependable McKenzie was then joined by Cork and Hampshire soon repaired the damage in the afternoon sunshine. McKenzie looked set for his second Hampshire century until Bopara beat his defences and bowled him for 83 in an innings which included 11 boundaries from 163 balls. But Cork was in flamboyant mood and saw Hampshire through to stumps with the initiative firmly in their grasp.
Chambers finished with economical figures of 2 for 48 from 18 overs while Kaneria got through 26 overs to finish with 2 for 70. England fringe player Bopara also took two wickets, for 33, as Essex battled hard to stem the flow of runs.
Cork is nearing the 10,000 runs and 1,000 wickets career double and his unbeaten half-century leaves him just under 500 runs short of his first target, while he has 936 first-class wickets to his name.