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 star attraction on Friday is Kevin Pietersen, who was controversially axed by England in the aftermath of last winter’s 5-0 Ashes defeat in Australia, with a capacity crowd expected for the visit of a Surrey side that is also set to include Sri Lanka all-rounder Tillakaratne Dilshan in the NatWest T20 Blast (2.30pm).

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 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 but wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick is nearing a first team return after breaking his finger.