LONDON: England's recent victory in The Ashes - the biennial cricketing dual with longstanding rival, Australia - is prompting mounting speculation that the squad's top players are set to cash in on a lucrative series of TV advertising contracts.
While the financial rewards available to UK cricketing heros such as Andrew Flintoff may never reach the dizzy sums routinely commanded by top footballing stars, one of the UK's leading celebrity sports agents believes that big-name technology, sporting kit and clothing brands will be "willing to open their wallets on this occasion".
He says: "English cricket is at the forefront of many big marketers' minds right now and I anticipate the more high-profile members of the squad launching lucrative TV advertising careers very soon".
The England win attracted record numbers of viewers to TV channel Five's highlights programme, Cricket on Five.
Ratings for the Sunday evening show soared to 2.3 million viewers, or a 9.7% share, beating off fierce competition from both BBC2 and ITV1.
Five's highlights of the final encounter of the five-match series averaged 1.37 million viewers across the four days - beating the channel's previous best average of 1.21 million for the second match last month.
More than 100,000 children watched the prime-time highlights, says Five, and a total of five million people tuned into the highlights across the four days.
The ratings results mark a major increase on the 991,000 average audience for Channel 4's highlights show during England's last Ashes win in 2005. However, since then, live coverage of the event has migrated from free-to-air Channel 4 to the subscription satellite broacaster, BSkyB.
Data sourced from Campaign; additional content by WARC staff