The senior vice-president of growth in advertising verticals looked at the junior associate non-executive vertical advertising officer over the top of his glasses. "How are we doing? Have we made any progress?"

The junior associate non-executive vertical advertising officer, Arun, looked faintly sheepish. "Not really."

His superior, who was called Mr Shah, looked disappointed. "We sold the sponsorship of sixes easily enough. I thought it would all be easy."

"Maybe businesses just don't want their brands associated with the other elements of cricket," suggested Arun.

"I doubt that," retorted Shah. "We managed to find someone to put their name to the time-outs. That company is sponsoring the absence of cricket. They're sponsoring nothing happening. They're sponsoring the ad breaks."

"I suppose," said Arun.

"Come on. We must have had a few bites," said Shah more optimistically. "What about run-outs? Someone must be interested in those."

"We've had the odd enquiry," said Arun. "But people seem to be put off by the price. I don't know. Maybe we should drop our rates a bit?"

Shah's fist thumped the table, causing several sheets of financial forecasts to flutter to the floor. "No! This is cricketainment! The premier sporting format in the world! Businesses should be knocking down our door to have their name associated with Murali Kartik's fatally unhurried running between the wickets. When Swapnil Asnodkar does a yes-no dither with Graeme Smith, what brand wouldn't want to be associated with that?"

For a moment Arun weighed up whether to speak or not and decided that he had to. "Some of the events that we're offering for sponsorship really aren't that appealing, you know?" As soon as he'd finished speaking, he regretted what he'd said.

"This is cricketainment!" raged Shah. "Cricketainment!" His eyes bulged and a bead of sweat trickled down his face, which was faintly vibrating with rage, causing his jowels to quiver.

It was too late now, Arun had already done the damage. He might as well continue. "But sir. We're asking people to sponsor... comfort breaks..."


Arun continued. "No one wants to tarnish their brand in that way."

Shah spoke slowly and softly. "Perhaps... you're talking... to the wrong people..."


"Plenty of brands are already associated with that activity. This is a chance for them to make their product and that natural bodily function synonymous. Think of the beverage manufacturers. Would they not want every man, woman and child in the world thinking of their product every time they feel pressure in their bladder?"

"We've spoken to all of them," said Arun. "The rates are too steep. I'm sorry. People just don't have the money."

Shah looked puzzled. "Have you seen what people are earning these days? Think about what we pay the players. There's money everywhere. If drinks companies can't pay these rates, who can?"

The two stared at the table, at the various documents in front of them - each liberally strewn with dollar signs and zeroes.

After a moment, Arun slowly raised his head. A "eureka" expression gradually spread across his face. "I've got it," he stated flatly.

"What?" said Shah, looking rather less positive.

"You're right," replied Arun. "You're right. Money is everywhere."

Shah looked blank.

"The players. The players have got the money."

Shah still looked blank.

"The players are brands in their own right nowadays. That's how we market this league of ours. There's no brand more powerful than the players themselves."

Shah made an expression that seemed to say "go on".

"The players are brands and brands need to be marketed. We need brands to sponsor the different elements of the game and who would want to associate themselves with elements of cricket more than cricketers?"

The significance finally dawned on Shah. "That's brilliant," he said. "Get on the phone. I want 'Shaun Tait Wide' graphics in place by this time tomorrow. Find out how much he'll pay. What did we pay him again? That should give us an idea of what he can afford."

"I'll get on to Rahul Dravid as well," said Arun. "I'll see if 'The Rahul Dravid Well-Judged Leave' appeals to him."

Alex Bowden blogs at King Cricket. Any or all quotes and facts in this article may be wholly or partly fictional (but you knew that already, didn't you?)