In a week when the country went cricket-crazy following the England team's Ashes victory over Australia, agents and sponsors were busy totting up what new-found fame and success could mean for the team's big three - skipper Michael Vaughan, all-rounder supreme Andrew Flintoff, and skunk-haired maverick Kevin Pietersen whose innings of 158 in the final Test proved decisive.
With celebrations in Trafalgar Square, a trip to Downing Street, and a well-documented party that never seemed to end, no England team ever enjoyed such exposure. Whether the crossover point - when sports stars moves beyond the confines of the pitch and into the national consciousness - has really been reached remains to be seen, but in the case of Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff, there seems little doubt. An autobiography is being rushed into print, with serial rights expected to be sold for over £100,000 when it comes out at the end of the month, to be followed a fortnight later by a book by Vaughan.
That is just the start. According to publicist Max Clifford, "the potential is there for Flintoff to earn up to £5m in the next year if he wanted to say 'yes' to everything, but the way to do it is to choose carefully." The maverick Pietersen, says Clifford, is not far behind. "They're both good-looking lads, and cricket is safe, which makes it attractive to companies."
ON FIELD: Batting and bowling colossus; best all-rounder since Ian Botham
OFF FIELD: Knows how to celebrate success, but no trouble-maker. Married to Rachael; daughter Holly, aged one; second child on the way
BOOK: "Being Freddie", out next week
THIS YEAR: £1m
SPONSORSHIP NEXT YEAR: estimated for 2006 £2m-£5m
CURRENT SPONSORS: Barclays, "The Sun", Volkswagen, Red Bull, Thwaites, Woodworm (bat maker)
MARKETABILITY: Would be good advertising an old-fashioned beer
'I'M A CELEBRITY' FACTOR: Doesn't need the money or the exposure
ON FIELD: Graceful batsman, unflappable skipper
OFF FIELD: Lives quietly with wife Nichola and daughter Tallulah Grace. The couple are expecting their second child
BOOK: "Calling the Shots", out on 14 October
THIS YEAR: £800,000
SPONSORSHIP NEXT YEAR: estimated for 2006 £1m-£1.5m
CURRENT SPONSORS: Quorn, Jaguar, Gunn & Moore (cricket equipment supplier)
MARKETABILITY: Will appeal to upmarket management firms, luxury goods and car makers
'I'M A CELEBRITY' FACTOR: His sensible approach to life would be a setback in reality shows
ON FIELD: Irrepressible batsman with brilliant strokes you won't find in the text book
OFF FIELD: Single. Has been going out with TV presenter Natalie Pinkham for "a couple of weeks"
BOOK: "Crossing the Boundary", due out next year
THIS YEAR: £100,000
SPONSORSHIP NEXT YEAR: estimated for 2006 £1m-£5m
CURRENT SPONSORS: Woodworm, "Daily Mail", Omega, Red Bull
MARKETABILITY: Young, confident, very rock'n'roll. Wide scope for jokey ad for hair-care products
'I'M A CELEBRITY' FACTOR: Up for a laugh, judging by badger hairdo. Pop career as a Backstreet Boys lookalike
They've never had it so good
Such is the impact the England cricket team has made that even the most junior and least successful member of the squad - the 23-year-old batsman Ian Bell - is expected to increase his earning power tenfold.
Bell scored just one half-century in the five-match series, and got a pair - two noughts - in the decisive Oval Test last week. Yet the London-based sponsorship consultant Redmandarin says he can expect his present £25,000-a-year sponsorship earnings to hit £300,000 next year. Bell is the future of English cricket, a sport that advertisers are suddenly waking up to.
Below the big three of Flintoff, Vaughan and Pietersen is a second tier of established players such as Marcus Trescothick, Matthew Hoggard, Steve Harmison and Ashley Giles, all of whom can expect to pull in around £1m a year.Reuse content