O'Brien shines for Middlesex
Gloucestershire 268 v Middlesex 71 for 4
After a good performance with the ball to dismiss Gloucestershire for 268, Middlesex slid to 71 for 4 by the close of the first day at a sunny Lord's. Given the movement which aided the seamers allied to some less than impressive batting from two sides which have the makings of being the division's also rans , this match is odds-on to over inside three days.
The first two sessions belonged to Middlesex's overseas player Iain O'Brien, bowling with pace from the Pavilion End to finish with 7 for 48, his second-best career return. At the moment New Zealander O'Brien is the county's overseas player but his wife is English and moves are afoot to have his status altered.
With Steve Finn omitted on the orders of the England management - with 114 overs from three matches this season there are those who would argue what he needs is to bowl not to rest - O'Brien led the line with scant support. Danny Evans, with 2 for 45, struck in his first over and was the best of the rest but Tim Murtagh and Gareth Berg suffered off days.
Jonathan Batty and Hamish Marshall, another New Zealander with British aspirations, steadied Gloucestershire after two early wickets, but from 145 for 2 they lost their way with some very ordinary batting. Marshall had started to chance his arm - his 72 came at a run a ball - when he miscued a pull to mid-off, and Batty's dogged 49 ended when he dragged Evans on.
At this point Middlesex should have wrapped things up but they lacked the consistency to turn the screw, allowing Chris Taylor (32) and James Franklin (44) to enable Gloucestershire to at least get their second batting point before O'Brien polished things off after tea.
Middlesex found things just as hard going. Scott Newman, who seemed to have found form in the last match after a dismal start since moving north from The Oval, loosely drove at Franklin for 1, but that appeared to be little more than a temporary setback. It was the introduction of Steve Kirby from the Pavilion End which put the visitors back in charge.
He pinned Owais Shah back in his crease leg before for 20, and then to Kirby's whooping delight he turned Andrew Strauss, who made 18, square on and Chris Dent held a good low catch at third slip. The next delivery O'Brien swished airily to give Batty his second catch, and Dawid Malan had to dig out a yorker on the hat-trick ball.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa