GLOUCESTERSHIRE are anticipating record gate receipts for a second successive year at the 2014 Brewin Dolphin Cheltenham Cricket Festival, which started on Monday.
Advance ticket sales were up on the same stage before last summer’s Festival and it seems the annual gathering at the picturesque College Ground is more popular than ever.
The opening four-day county championship match with Derbyshire is delicately poised going into the final day and the star attraction for many tomorrow (Friday) will be the appearance of Kevin Pietersen.
The batsman who was controversially axed by England in the aftermath of last winter’s 5-0 Ashes defeat in Australia, lines up for the visiting Surrey side in the NatWest T20 Blast competition (5.30pm).
A defeat for Gloucestershire in that game would end their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals.
Gloucestershire chief executive Will Brown said: “It never ceases to amaze me how far people are prepared to travel to get to Cheltenham.
“We are delighted with the response to this year’s Festival and all the signs are that it will be even more successful than last year.”
Supporters will be able to meet a true Gloucestershire legend during the NatWest T20 Blast game against Surrey. Mike Procter will be making an appearance at a stall set up by Sporting Memories Network as part of their work to support people with dementia.
Essex are the visitors in the same competition on Sunday (2.30pm) and Gloucestershire face northern neighbours Worcestershire in a county championship match starting the following day, while they will also play their opening game in the new Royal London 50-over Cup when Northamptonshire provide the opposition on the final day of the Festival, which runs until Sunday, July 27.
Craig Miles (back), James Fuller (foot) and Matt Taylor (shin splints) will not be making an appearance at the Festival as they need longer to recover from their injuries.
A new addition to the Festival calendar this year is a Ten10 Tournament taking place on Friday, July 25.
The four teams competing will be a Brewin Dolphin XI, a Gloucestershire Old Boys’ team captained by Mark Alleyne, a Gloucester Rugby XI and a team representing the Gloucestershire Cricket Board.
The day’s entertainment culminates with a Sports Question Time featuring Gloucester rugby great and former England captain Mike Tindall, Sochi Olympic Gold medallist Lizzy Yarnold, former South Africa and Gloucester cricketing legend, Mike Procter and Grand National and Gold Cup-winning trainer Kim Bailey.