Breakthrough series sets up England hero for bumper windfall

ENGLAND hero Alastair Cook’s record-breaking Ashes displays have hugely boosted his earning potential, with sports marketing experts predicting “the sky is the limit” for a man dubbed the “sponsor’s dream”.

The Essex opener arrived in Australia desperately struggling for form and fighting to keep his place in the team, but plundered three centuries and a total of 766 runs Down Under as England romped to a 3-1 series victory.

Industry insiders say Cook’s good looks and clean-cut image also make him a hit with marketing chiefs, while he could really strike gold if he can break into the Indian Premier League (IPL) and become England captain.

“From being just another occasional Test player he is now a star in a winning team. It’ll make a big difference to his earning potential,” John Taylor, chairman of marketing company Sports Impact told City A.M.

“He’ll have a much higher profile and brands that might not be into cricket will now be interested, giving him cross-over appeal. Cricket is growing and is huge in Asia, so he becomes much more attractive to IPL teams, where there is big money.”

Taylor, who tipped men’s grooming and beer companies as potential suitors for Cook, added: “If an Indian company were interested he could be earning £1m a year. If he goes on to be a great batsman then the sky’s the limit.”

Dominic Curran, deputy managing director at sponsorship experts Synergy, said Cook, 26, was “a sponsor’s dream” but would need to build on his Ashes achievements before significantly increasing his earnings.

“There’s no doubt it will have raised his profile,” Curran said. “Add to this that he is articulate, good looking and is still a lot nearer the start than the end of his career, so he will be in a stronger position to attract personal sponsors and more high street brands targeting a young, male audience.

“It’s more likely that Cook will make more impact if or when he becomes England captain – then his stock is likely to rise. The bottom line is he and any sportsman needs to keep producing it on the field over a long period of time to reap any dividends off it.”

Cook is not part of England’s World Cup-winning Twenty20 side, making him a less attractive choice for IPL teams, and was not one of seven England players snapped up in Saturday’s auction.

Collingwood: No let-up for limited-overs dates
ENGLAND’S Paul Collingwood insists England won’t take their foot off the gas in the upcoming limited-overs series against Australia. Two Twenty20 fixtures and seven one-day clashes begin on Wednesday and afford them some useful practice for the World Cup, which starts next month. “It’s about getting our feet back on the ground and getting back to work again,” said Collingwood.