Hampshire debutant Aiden Markam was pleased to begin his overseas stint by making 63.

The South African helped Hampshire begin the season by amassing 303-4 against Essex at The Ageas Bowl. 

He said: “It was a great day. It is exactly what you want when you come to a new club.

“I would have loved Sam to get to three figures before stumps but he has played well after the openers had set it up.

“I will take 63. I had a tough run at Durham last year so it was nice to just get off the mark.

“I enjoyed it out there the wicket played pretty well, especially for this time of year. I am grateful for that as a batter.

“Last year, I got a pair on day one and then I got a duck in the third innings against Leicestershire, so I had a little chuckle when I got off the mark today."

Sam Northeast top scored with an unbeaten 94, while Markram's compatriot Rilee Rossouw blitzed a stunning 76 from 66 balls.

“When Rilee is in full flow it is a joy to watch," he continued. "You just put your feet up and take it all in because he could potential do something no one has ever done."

Daily Echo: Rilee Rossouw hits out during a 66-ball 76 that included ten fours and four sixes (Photo by Neil Marshall)Rilee Rossouw hits out during a 66-ball 76 that included ten fours and four sixes (Photo by Neil Marshall)

James Vince made a classy 40 in front of England selector Ed Smith - but was overshadowed by Northeast.

Captain Vince has promoted himself to the top of the batting order with the hope of pushing for an Ashes spot as an opener, writes Alex Smith.

Vince put in a typically elegant display – with the first ball he faced driven charmingly through the covers, after Essex had elected to bowl without a toss.

But while Vince failed to reach a half-century, Northeast trumped the lot.

Northeast, who endured a mixed 2018 after moving from Kent, scored a confident 94 not out to take Hampshire to the close on 303 for four – having boasted the opening day of the Specsavers County Championship season.

After a 20-minute delay to the curtain raiser due to bad light, with grey clouds sitting above the south coast throughout the day, Hampshire found batting simple from the outset.

Vince, having stroked his first delivery beautifully, replicated his trademark cover drive two balls later before firmly cutting Jamie Porter for a third boundary of the over after a further two deliveries.

He has previously played 13 Tests but has found an unwanted infamy for his attractive shot-making but frustrating wickets.

Vince attempted to disprove the reputation and looked at his very best on a slow, un-April-like, pitch.

Opening partner Joe Weatherley swallowed up 40 balls with a textbook defensive performance, but got over confident on 13 when he drove Matt Quinn to Tom Westley at third slip.

Vince continued along with overseas Markram and appeared to be on course to reach lunch unbeaten – but ended the session being struck on the pads by Ravi Bopara as he fell across his stumps.

Where Vince fell, Markram excelled – with the South Africa Test player driving equally well.

The Test batsman, who played in three Specsavers County Championship matches for Durham last season, looked at ease from the off on a slow Ageas Bowl wicket.

Markram only arrived in the UK earlier this week as he was brought in as a late replacement for Sri Lankan Dimuth Karunaratne.

He made hay during a 75-run stand with Northeast, as the 24-year-old reached his bow with fifty from 77 balls.

Markram departed when he edged behind to Dan Lawrence – who stood in as Essex’s wicket-keeper after Adam Wheater damaged a finger during the afternoon session.

But the fun really started when Rossouw arrived at the crease.

The Kolpak signing smashed a quarter of huge sixes and crashed 10 fours in a bludgeoning and eye-catching innings.

Rossouw juxtaposed Northeast who was carefully going about his own game – taking on the bad balls but watchfully blocking out anything that could cause any danger.

While Rossouw scored his half century in a white-ball-like 47 balls, Northeast in 95 balls.

Rossouw departed with an out of control pull shot, caught at deep square leg by Simon Harmer.

Northeast continued his vigil to the end of the day and reached 94 before bad light ended proceedings at 5.30pm.