The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and NatWest, part of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, today announced a continuation of NatWest's sponsorship of one-day international cricket to cover the 2003-2005 seasons. This three-year sponsorship deal will include 'The NatWest Series' and a new additional three-match one-day international tournament, to be known as 'The NatWest Challenge'.

Now in its third year, The NatWest Series continues to grow from strength to strength with England taking on two visiting nations each year. With 10 matches in 17 days during June and July, The NatWest Series gives fans across the country a chance to experience one-day international cricket at its best. In 2003 the two touring nations will be South Africa and Zimbabwe.

The new competition, The NatWest Challenge, will introduce an additional three-match one-day international tournament each year which will involve England taking on either a third visiting nation or one of the two principal touring teams in three further one-day international fixtures. In 2003, England will compete against Pakistan. Dates and venues for both of next year's tournaments will be announced in due course.

Ian Henderson, NatWest Director of Retail Marketing said: "NatWest's sponsorship of cricket from international to grassroots level over the last 22 years has been a huge success. We are therefore delighted to be extending our sponsorship and support. The NatWest Challenge will provide us with a further sporting platform for us to communicate key messages to both our existing and potential customer base."

NatWest will also continue to actively support grassroots cricket, which is a major part of the sponsorship programme. Over million has been invested in the last three years through a series of initiatives including the NatWest 'Get Involved' programme (part of the NatWest Volunteer Support Programme) and the distribution of 800 Flicx pitches and 10,000 skills balls to schools and clubs across the UK.

Tim Lamb, Chief Executive of the ECB, said: "NatWest's long-standing support of English and Welsh cricket has been invaluable to the game so we are delighted at their decision to continue their sponsorship of international cricket through The NatWest Series and the newly-formed competition, The NatWest Challenge. This new addition will enable England to play a guaranteed nine days of competitive one-day international cricket each summer, supporting the England Team management's desire to gain further experience in this form of the game."