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ICC opens up test cricket shirt sponsorship

South Africa's batsman Dean Elgar plays a shot during the fourth day of the third cricket test match between South Africa and India at Wanderers cricket ground on January 27, 2018 in Johannesburg. (GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP via Getty Images)

The International Cricket Council is permitting prominent front-of-shirt sponsors during test matches for the first time as part of its Covid-19 response.

Logos of up to 32 square inches in size will be allowed on the chest of test match shirts and sweaters for the next 12 months. Until now, large logos on the front of team shirts were only allowed in one day and T20 international matches. Three smaller, more discreet logos are already permitted on test match apparel.

The move is an effort to give cricket boards new revenue-earning potential as they manage the downturn in business caused by Covid-19.

UK newspaper the Daily Mail reported that the England team has been in talks about donating the new sponsorship position to the country’s National Health Service or Covid-19-linked charities. One of the first test series to feature the new sponsorship positions will be England’s home series against the West Indies, which is scheduled to start on July 8.

The ICC’s Chief Executives Committee (CEC) – comprising the chief executives of the world’s major cricket boards – announced the sponsorship rules relaxation yesterday, alongside several other rule changes in response to the pandemic. The other changes include allowing teams to replace players in their squads that display Covid-19 symptoms during test matches, stopping players from using saliva to shine the ball, and allowing the appointment of non-neutral match officials. The latter move reflects the increased difficulty of international travel and flying in officials from overseas.

Cricket boards have been responding to the pandemic with large budget and salary cuts. The West Indies is cutting player and staff salaries by half. Cricket Australia and its players are in dispute over the depth of cost-cutting by the board. New Zealand Cricket is cutting staff by 15 per cent. The England and Wales Cricket Board has warned it could lose up to £380m ($483m/€426m due to match cancellations.