The Hundred is set for a major boost, with the England and Wales Cricket Board understood to be close to announcing a new headline sponsor for the competition.
A multi-year deal with a brand that has not previously been involved in cricket is being finalised and there is optimism that it will be signed this week.
The ECB was forced to seek a new main commercial partner for the third season of the Hundred after Cazoo declined to continue its contract.
It added to uncertainty around the controversial month-long competition involving eight city-based men’s and women’s franchises, which begins on 1 August.
Some county chairmen have openly questioned the claims from the ECB that the Hundred has made money, while its architect Sanjay Patel is set to leave his post later this year.
But the signing of a new title sponsor will effectively safeguard the family and youth-focused 100-ball competition for the immediate future.
It will also complete a roster of sponsors of the Hundred which also includes KP Snacks, Vitality, Sage, Robinsons and New Balance.
Leading sports agency CSM, which has long handled most of the ECB’s commercial deals, has been carrying out the search.
The ECB was said to be targeting a title sponsor that could appeal to a Gen-Z audience, in keeping with its stated aim of taking cricket to new audiences.
It is understood that the brand set to sign up is not Gen-Z focused but, as a new entrant to the sport, does fulfil the ECB’s mission.
Supporters of the Hundred insist it has succeeded in diversifying the sport’s appeal, with 43 per cent of TV viewers female and 18 per cent of match attendees British Asian.
There is also a belief that the record viewing figures reported by Sky Sports for last week’s first men’s Ashes Test were in part driven by fans brought to the sport through the Hundred.
Sky Sports has an agreement to broadcast the Hundred until 2028 as part of a wider deal with the ECB that was extended last summer.
The BBC also renewed its contract for radio coverage of the Hundred and other England cricket fixtures for another five years earlier this month.
However, its deal to show some live Hundred fixtures on terrestrial television and its online platforms is currently due to expire next year.
Losing free-to-air exposure would damage the competition’s future commercial appeal, one industry source said.
Online car dealer Cazoo chose not to renew its deal with the Hundred as part of a wider retreat from sports sponsorship.
Having signed a flurry of deals during the pandemic, it also walked away from shirt sponsorship deals with a host of football clubs, including Aston Villa, Marseille and Real Sociedad.