CHELTENHAM'S annual festival began in breezy sunshine, the Cotswolds dark green against the blue sky, a good crowd gathered to see Courtney Walsh bowl to Sachin Tendulkar. The stage management was high-class, the highly paid performers played their part but the writers would have packed up at tea and gone back to scripting Eldorado.
Gloucestershire's captain, Tony Wright, spotting damp patches on the square after heavy overnight rain had crept under the covers, sent Yorkshire in and then had to watch while five bowlers were unable to prevent Martyn Moxon and Simon Kellett compiling a century opening stand. Walsh, returning just before lunch, ended Kellett's promising innings with a yorker.
When David Byas arrived, he posted Dean Hodgson to leg slip and Byas, third ball, obliged by flicking the ball round the corner as if on cue. Moxon and Tendulkar prospered right through the afternoon. The Imdian, returning after a back strain, was careful, almost subdued at times, but Gloucestershire's fielding had to be swift and accurate to keep him in check.
Moxon, in contrast, opened out as the afternoon lengthened and the fourth wicket had added 121, with seemingly many more runs in prospect, when Yorkshire were again overtaken by disaster, this time on the stroke of tea.
First Tendulkar, facing Richard Scott, was well taken behind, perhaps the third ball of the day to do anything extraordinary. Moxon took a nasty blow on his vulnerable hands and needed attention while Wright produced his master stroke, his sixth bowler, Mark Alleyne.
A dubious leg-side delivery tempted Richard Blakey into a soft surrender to square leg; Craig White was caught behind flicking at another of no greater distinction while Peter Hartley felt there had to be more to Alleyne's bowling than appeared, checked his shot and gave a simple return catch: Alleyne 3 for 8 in 18 balls, Gloucestershire up and running again.
Back stormed Walsh to give Phil Carrick two torrid overs, no way to treat an elder statesman who has just taken his 1,000 wickets for Yorkshire. Moxon continued at his best, his third Championship century of the summer. He drove with great power and he never allowed either the bowling or the loss of partners to affect his composure or rhythm.
His 171 not out (342 balls, two sixes and 21 fours) is the highest score by a Yorkshire player on this ground, surpassing Ashley Metcalfe's 162 of two years ago. Tendulkar again reached his average for Yorkshire, 43, before being out. If Yorkshire do not re-sign him for next year it will not be because he is regarded as having failed to score enough runs in what has been a freshman year, but because the Indian Board, by agreeing to tour Sri Lanka next midsummer, will be taking him away for six weeks. In 1994 India tour England.Reuse content