Ervine leads the way for Kent

Sean Ervine made the best of a placid Canterbury pitch to ease Hampshire into the driving seat on the opening day of their LV= County Championship Division Two clash with Kent.

The 31-year-old Zimbabwean scored an unbeaten 75 from 110 balls to resurrect a Hampshire innings that, at 187 for five, had threatened to seriously underachieve.

With Chris Wood adding 61 from number eight, the visitors recovered to reach 343 for seven at the close.

Kent marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War by using a 1914 half crown for the toss, which Hampshire won and chose to bat first.

On a docile wicket the visiting opening pair of Jimmy Adams and Michael Carberry suffered little or no consternation in posting 71 for the first wicket.

Carberry steered a couple of his seven boundaries down through third man off thick edges, but otherwise looked untroubled until the introduction of off-spinner Adam Riley, who struck with his fourth ball.

Looking to whip a length delivery through mid-wicket, Carberry missed out and was sent packing lbw by umpire Ben Debenham for 39 but, despite a short break for rain, Hampshire were still sitting pretty at lunch on 90 for one.

Kent re-grouped in the interval and, with the first ball after the break, Mitch Claydon found the inside edge of Adams to dismiss the left-hander to an athletic take by wicketkeeper Sam Billings - the first of his four catches.

Kent made further mid-session progress when Doug Bollinger had James Vince (15) caught at the wicket when attempting a back-foot force then Will Smith, having reached a 108-ball 50 with eight fours, played around one from Riley to go leg before.

Without addition to the total Liam Dawson (36) nicked another catch to Billings to make it 187 for five but Ervine, resolute and punishing when anything short was on offer, stroked six boundaries on his way to a 59-ball 50.

Soon after posting their first batting bonus point Adam Wheater (15) feathered one off Bollinger to give Billings another top catch and leave Kent believing they might polish the innings off in good time.

Ervine had other ideas however, and he dug in together with Wood to add a workmanlike 124 for the seventh wicket inside 28.3 overs.

Wood hit six fours in his 74-ball half-century in a responsible stay in tandem with Ervine that left Kent wondering where their next wicket may come from.

It was veteran Darren Stevens who finally proved to be Kent's partnership breaker having Wood snaffled at slip by Ben Harmison to bring in Matt Coles - the former Kent all-rounder - to face the handful of nervy deliveries before the close.

Though Coles failed to get off the mark, he survived through to stumps with Ervine to send their side into day two of the 163rd Canterbury Cricket Week fixture with power to add.