Australia need new Test team sponsor

The Commonwealth Bank logo featured prominently during Australia’s triumphant home Ashes campaign in 2013-14 © Getty Images

Test matches in Australia will be in need of a new naming rights sponsor from mid-2017 after it was revealed that Commonwealth Bank’s new $ 15 million deal to support diversity in the game over the next three years is in fact a reduction of the bank’s investment in cricket by more than a third.

The previous deal between the bank and Cricket Australia, announced in May 2013, was set to last four years to a value of no less than about $ 50 million. It included name sponsorship rights to the Australian Test team playing at home and home Test series. But ESPNcricinfo has been told this will not be renewed beyond July next year.

“Commonwealth Bank remains a proud partner of Cricket Australia and is excited to rebalance its sponsorship to help even up the gender and diversity scales in professional sport,” a Commonwealth Bank spokesperson said. “On top of the initiatives announced yesterday, we will continue to support the Test series until July 2017 and throughout the upcoming summer series.”

At the time it was a significant expansion of the bank’s role in support of Australian cricket, for its previous deal had covered the Southern Stars women’s team and grassroots competitions for a far less significant sum. It arrived at a febrile time for the game down under also, with Mickey Arthur about to be sacked as coach and replaced by Darren Lehmann ahead of back-to-back Ashes series.

“Over the last 26 years we have been involved with Australia’s favourite sport from grassroots to grandstands,” the Commonwealth Bank chief executive Ian Narev said at the time. “Test Cricket is the pinnacle of Australian cricket, so we are proud to strengthen our commitment to the game by becoming the new sponsor of the Australian Test team and Test series.”

The bank was duly the beneficiary when a team clad in their logos not only won the Ashes 5-0 at home but also went on to win 2-1 in South Africa. Qantas subsequently took up sponsorship of Australian touring teams. Vodafone had previously been the naming rights sponsor for home Tests, a deal that began in 2010.

The “rebalance” of the bank’s sponsorship will now be directed at women’s cricket, indigenous players, players with a disability and local clubs. However the downgrade in financial investment will also leave a shortfall for CA’s commercial and financial divisions to have to work through unless the next Test match naming rights sponsor can match or improve on the 2013 deal.

“We have had excellent partnerships with CBA over nearly three decades, and we welcome their continuing involvement in Australia’s favourite sport,” the CA chief executive James Sutherland said when announcing the new deal. “It is significant that they, like Cricket Australia, wish to be deeply involved in supporting and promoting the diversity of our community.”

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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