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August 21, 2002 | 1135 IST

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ICC row brings focus on player earnings

In India, the face of Sachin Tendulkar's broad bat is considered one of the most expensive advertising hoardings in the country.

The gifted player regarded as the world's leading batsman and his India team mates are eagerly sought by companies to cash in on their fame in cricket-crazy India.

So, a raging row over a disputed ICC contract involving several leading world players threatening to jeopardise next month's ICC Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka has put the spotlight on India, the marketing hub for the game.

Players from leading Test countries like Australia and South Africa, like their Indian counterparts, have also refused to sign the contract over an "ambush marketing" clause which they say would harm their personal endorsement deals.

The ICC clause bars players endorsing products of rival companies 30 days either side of its events such as the 12-nation Champions Trophy in Colombo and the World Cup in South Africa starting next February.

While players from other countries have argued it could jeopardise their future endorsement opportunities as the contract runs until 2007, India players have complained it would severely affect their already lucrative current personal deals.

All eyes in the cricketing world are on India's three big stars: Tendulkar, skipper Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid who together corner a huge chunk of the endorsements in the billion-strong country.


India has in recent years become the marketing mecca for world cricket with a host of multinational firms pumping in millions to sponsor cricket tournaments involving the national squad and getting team members to endorse their products.

Live telecast of cricket matches and the popularity of the one-day format has made the game a major revenue-churning industry in India with the top players enjoying iconic status.

Tendulkar, regarded as the world's richest cricketer, easily leads the list of elite earners from the game.

His huge marketing contract signed last year alone assures him around $18 million over five years and he remains easily the most recognised face in the country.

He currently endorses a wide range of products from cars and soft drinks to credit cards and car tyres.

Ganguly and Dravid, though not in the same league, also earn at least 50 million rupees every year from television ads for big companies, said an industry source.

Besides, each player earns around $3,196 for a Test and $2,785 for a one-dayer. India played 13 Tests and 24 one-dayers last year.


A recent survey by a domestic market research group, Indica Research, placed Tendulkar on top in terms of overall visibility, ahead of leading Indian film actors and actresses.

The survey conducted in four major cities concluded that two of the products endorsed by him were among those with the highest brand recall among consumers.

"Tendulkar is the only hero the country seems to have," B. Narayanaswamy, head of the survey firm, told Reuters.

He said cricketers were ideal to promote new products as they were easily recognised and became associated with the brand they were endorsing.

"There is a natural link because of the game's huge popularity," he said. "Otherwise it would be just another product."

Complete coverage of the controversy

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