AB De Villiers ensured fans inside Lord's were treated to another memorable display as he marked his English domestic debut with trademark belligerence to guide Middlesex to a comfortable seven-wicket opening-night Vitality Blast win over Essex.
The former South Africa skipper was in imperious form as he claimed an unbeaten 88 from just 43 deliveries, with six sixes which included a towering blow that almost cleared the Lord's Grand Stand.
The full house inside HQ had already stood to the sight of England skipper Eoin Morgan, rested for this match, displaying the World Cup trophy so spectacularly won just four days ago during a lap of honour in between innings.
— Middlesex Cricket (@Middlesex_CCC) July 18, 2019
And while De Villiers' power hitting will hardly resonate for anywhere near as long as Sunday's final, it was a stark reminder of his quality as Middlesex coasted to a victory with three overs to spare.
Ryan Ten Doeschate's unbeaten 74 from 46 balls had helped Essex set a difficult-looking 164 for six on the same pitch used for the World Cup final.
But any hopes the visitors might have had – after reducing Middlesex to 39 for two – were extinguished by De Villiers as he shared a 105-run stand with Dawid Malan.
Worcestershire began their title defence with a 28-run win over Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
Moeen Ali returned from World Cup duty with 32 from 25 balls before taking four for 18.
Ed Barnard top-scored for the visitors with an unbeaten 42 from 19 balls and, while Alex Hales replied with a half-century, the home innings fell apart thereafter as they limped to 133 for nine.
Opener Tom Banton further underlined his reputation as one of the most promising young batsmen in the country with 64 runs from 34 balls as Somerset defeat Glamorgan by eight wickets in Cardiff.
Half-centuries from Colin Ingram and David Lloyd (57) steered Glamorgan to 180 for five, but Banton led the pursuit before Peter Trego completed the victory with an unbeaten 47 from 31 balls.