HAMPSHIRE and Essex could only manage an hour’s play before rain stunted progress during the first day of their Specsavers County Championship fixture at the Ageas Bowl.

Play was originally delayed by half an hour due to overnight rain before Essex captain Ryan ten Doeschate asked Hampshire to bat without a toss.

Thick grey skies and floodlights overhead hinted at good bowling conditions, but a sand-coloured wicket suggested slightly easier going for the batsmen.

And so it proved as Hampshire openers Jimmy Adams and Joe Weatherley navigated the 15 overs bowled with relative comfort.

Both struck four boundaries each, with Weatherley particularly strong through the offside.

Academy graduate Weatherley, who replaced the injured Sam Northeast in the side, scored 22 in the shorted session, with Adams unbeaten on a patient 19 when play was abandoned soon after 2.30pm.

Sam Northeast, a winter recruit from Kent, was forced out of the match having suffered a suspected fractured finger during a training session on Thursday.

Hampshire will wait to receive further scans before releasing any update on Northeast – who scored a classy century against Surrey last week.

And despite the lack of their star middle-order batsman, Hampshire Director of Cricket Giles White was impressed by the duo’s start, despite the weather curtailing the partnership.

White said: “It’s obviously disappointing that we were only able to get 15 overs in today, but looking at some of the other matches across the country, we’ve done well to get underway at all, so I’m sure plenty of sides will be frustrated.

“Joe (Weatherley) and Jimmy (Adams) started nicely for us in difficult conditions this morning.

We’re pleased to have got through that mini session with both of those guys still at the crease heading into tomorrow.

“Hopefully the weather will be kinder to us over the next few days.”

Essex were able to call on Alastair Cook for the first time this season, along with namesake Sam, and while the former stood untroubled at first slip, the latter provided a few testing deliveries on his return from a cracked finger.

Meanwhile, South African Simon Harmer is fed up with the rain, having suffered a wash-out in the opening round of fixtures at Yorkshire.

“We had four days of it in Headingley so for the weather to be back is frustrating but it seems like a decent wicket and hopefully we can make the most of it over the next three days,” Harmer said.

“We always knew they were going to come out and be very circumspect and we also knew the rain was going to come in at some stage.

“The forecast was for about 1pm and I think the batters knew that and they didn’t necessarily need to score they only needed to get through the hour we played.

“It would have been nice to have taken a few wickets but it was quite encouraging the way we bowled.”