ECB secures major sponsorship deal
Test cricket in England was given a major vote of confidence as Investec, the international specialist bank, signed a 10-year sponsorship deal with the ECB for the five-day game.
The sponsorship, understood to be worth around £50 million, will run until 2021 and is the longest deal signed in the ECB's history. It will incorporate three home Ashes series and two visits of India. The deal begins next summer when England host West Indies and South Africa for two three-Test series.
Australia's victory against South Africa at the Wanderers means England are guaranteed to hold onto their No. 1 ranking ahead of their series against Pakistan in UAE which begins in January. The team's success in reaching the top spot, including consecutive Ashes series victories, has made them an attractive commercial product.
Also, unlike other countries that are struggling to attract crowds that is not a problem for the English game. Earlier this week tickets for The Oval test against South Africa went on public sale and 21,000 were snapped up in the first three hours.
"This is excellent news for all supporters of Test cricket and a further boost for our five-day game following the England team's recent achievement in becoming the world's number one ranked Test side," David Collier, the ECB chief executive, said. "Investec are an established brand with extensive experience in the sports sponsorship field and we are delighted that they have made such a significant, long-term commitment to promoting Test cricket in this country.
"The extent of their investment reflects the fact that our five day game continues to command very significant audiences - both at home where we achieved record attendances for international cricket in 2011 and abroad where the England team is gaining increased exposure in markets such as Asia, South Africa and Australia.
Investec has previously been a key sponsor of English rugby - there was a wry smile on the face of Raymond van Niekerk, the global marketing director, in light of the recent controversies engulfing the Rugby Football Union - and they become only the third title sponsor of Test cricket in England following Cornhill and npower.
"If you get involved with any sponsorship you have to take a long-term view," said van Niekerk. "For us, two or three years in is only the beginning. It also gives certainty to the partners that we are serious."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo