Gloucestershire 368 for 7 v Middlesex

Two dropped catches by Andrew Strauss cost Middlesex dearly as Gloucestershire totalled 368 for seven on the opening day of the County Championship Division Two match at Uxbridge.

Strauss, fielding at first slip, put down Gloucestershire's Ian Cockbain and Chris Dent when they had made 8 and 26 respectively. Dent went on to hit 10 fours in a stylish 61 and Cockbain completed his maiden first-class century in the penultimate over when he steered Anthony Ireland through the slips for his 13th four. He also hit a six and at stumps had faced 192 balls for his unbeaten 103.

Gloucestershire would have been 75 for 3 if England Test captain Strauss had held a regulation edge offered by Dent off Tim Murtagh, but it was the Cockbain drop which proved most expensive for Middlesex. A mid-afternoon wobble saw Gloucestershire slide from 138 for 2 to 183 for 5 after Dent and Chris Taylor had added 86 for the third wicket.

Dent was trapped lbw by Corey Collymore, Taylor's attractive 61-ball 52 ended when he edged Steven Crook to John Simpson behind the stumps, and Richard Coughtrie fell for 17 to another catch by Simpson off Murtagh.

But Strauss could not hold a thick edge diving to his right, as Cockbain tried to drive a ball from Neil Dexter, and the 24-year-old batsman - only playing because of injury to Gloucestershire captain Alex Gidman - then flourished in a sixth wicket partnership of 112 in 27 overs with Will Gidman.

As second-placed Middlesex sought to gain the early advantage in a crucial game against the team just one place and seven points behind them in the promotion race, Cockbain and Gidman denied them in contrasting fashion.

Cockbain accumulated steadily while Gidman, who has flourished since his winter move from Durham, looked for the booming drive through the covers and also twice swung Tom Smith's slow left-arm spin for sixes.

Gidman made 52 from 70 balls before he nibbled at Dexter's medium pace, but Jack Taylor - before he was brilliantly caught at point - and Jon Lewis helped Cockbain negotiate the second new ball in the day's closing overs to ensure Gloucestershire took the overall first day honours.

Just to rub it in, Lewis hit a Crook delivery over cover for six after twice scything the paceman high over gully for four in an uncomplicated 25 not out.