Vitality succeeds NatWest as Blast sponsor

The Notts team with the NatWest Blast T20 trophy Getty Images

The ECB has secured a new sponsor for T20 cricket, although the deal with health and life insurance group Vitality will not include the proposed new-team competition for 2020. Vitality takes over from NatWest, who remain the ECB's "principal partner" with naming rights on England shirts.

The new deal will cover the Vitality Blast for the next four years, as well as England men's and women's home T20I series for two years. The Blast is set to be overtaken as England's main T20 competition in two summers' time, when an eight-team tournament modelled along the lines of the IPL and Big Bash comes into being.

NatWest succeeded Friends Life as the domestic T20 sponsor on a four-year contract in 2014, before widening its agreement with the ECB. That led to Investec, a rival financial services provider, ending its sponsorship of Test cricket in England early, with the board still looking for a replacement.

The new T20 competition is hoped to lead to a big increase in interest and revenue, forming part of the comprehensive broadcast deal secured by the ECB last summer worth 1.1bn.

"We're excited to be working with a partner who shares our enthusiasm and passion for T20 cricket," Rob Calder, the ECB's commercial director, said. "It's the fastest growing format of the game, an integral part of ECB's long-term strategy and has a critical role to play in bringing new people to the sport.

"Vitality are an established brand in the sports marketplace with a proven track record of using sponsorship successfully to grow fan-bases and improve participation levels. They're a natural fit for a partnership to drive interest and engagement in all our different T20 competitions at every level."

Vitality has been an official partner of the ECB since 2013 and make use of England Test captain Joe Root as a brand ambassador. The company also has sponsorship arrangements in football, rugby, hockey and netball.

Neville Koopowitz, CEO of Vitality, said: "We're delighted to be partnering with the ECB for T20 cricket. T20 is a brilliant innovation that's revolutionising the sport around the world.

"This new sponsorship aligns with our own vibrant brand and fits with our desire to increase awareness and engagement among families and across all levels of the game while at the same time telling more people about Vitality."