Jun 27 2011 By Jon Batham
Andrew Strauss Image 1
COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP DIVISION TWO – DAY ONE Gloucester 368-7
STEVEN Crook’s three wickets helped keep Middlesex in contention on the first day of their crucial County Championship match with Gloucestershire at Uxbridge.
The former Lancashire all-rounder took 3-101 capturing the scalps of Hamish Marshall, Kane Wiliamson and Chris Dent – which was just as well.
The poor form of England captain Andrew Strauss (pic) with the bat switched to the field when making a rare appearance for his county – he spilled a pair of catches.
It gave a maiden first-class 100 for Ian Cockbain gave the visitors the edge after he 24-year-old made the most of being missed at slip by Strauss off the bowling of skipper Neil Dexter to punish the host attack with 13 fours and one six.
Strauss also shelled an easier chance again at first slip, Dent the beneficiary when on 26 who went on to make 61.
Chris Taylor and Will Gidman weighed in with 52 apiece on a typically batsman friendly strip at Gatting Way.
The visitors had no hesitation in batting after winning the toss, and despite some early playing and missing Marshall and Dent added 52 before Crook had the former taken at second slip by Dexter.
Two balls later the medium pacer struck again with a beauty that removed Williamson’s off bail.
Strauss’ first drop soon followed as Dent edged Murtagh to first slip.
It proved costly as Dent and Taylor took the score to 138 before Corey Collymore trapped Dent LBW for 61.
Taylor continued serenely to his half century but was out next ball caught behind by Simpson to give Crook his third victim.
And when Murtagh returned at the pavilion end to have Richard Coughtrie also pouched by Simpson, Gloucester were wobbling at 183-5.
However, Strauss then dropped a more difficult chance off a flashing edge from Cockbain – a miss that proved the defining moment of the day.
Simpson grabbed a third catch behind off Dexter to dismiss Will Gidman (52) for another fluent half-century and Crook pulled off a stunning catch at point off the bowling of Collymore to send Jack Taylor
back into the hutch.
However, with a 400 Gloucester total looming, Strauss and company need to bat well on day two - and maybe get the same luck the opposition did.