ECB keen to protect Ashes stars' image

The England & Wales Cricket Board is keen for its cricket stars, still celebrating their Ashes triumph, to avoid 'Beckhamisation'.

The side's success has seen the profiles of all-rounder Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff, final-Test hero Kevin Pietersen, and other team-mates reach an all-time high.

Comparisons between the marketability of Flintoff and England football captain David Beckham are now inevitable.

But an ECB spokesman told PRWeek: 'We need to ensure the players are protected and can perform on the pitch. But some are more confident about revealing their private lives than others.'

Nevertheless, the ECB hopes the success of the Ashes will 'accelerate' the Chance to Shine and Cricket Force initiatives.

Meanwhile, the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) group CEO Richard Bevan said the PCA wanted to 'give cricket a high-street presence' via brand link-ups, and 'develop innovative packages for sponsors and commercial partners'.

He added: 'The players have substantial collective business partnerships with the ECB and its sponsors.'

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