Athletes from across the world have been ranked according to their marketing potential over a three-year period from this summer.
- Value for money
- Home market
- Willingness to be marketed
- Crossover appeal
British, 26, Cricket
High-octane all-rounder advancing on world cricket
Key partners: New Balance, Red Bull
2016 ranking: New entry
Ben Stokes is billed as a new breed of England cricketer, a fearsome performer who imposes his relentless tempo on all three forms of the sport. His is an update on the high-octane yeomanry of all-rounders like Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff, retooled for an age of Twenty20, social media and Marvel blockbusters.
His paymasters at the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have been keen to cultivate a group of expressive, adventurous players, on and off the field, with an eye on a home Cricket World Cup in 2019, a landmark set of TV deals in 2020, a new domestic T20 competition and a pressing need to reach a generation of fans from whom the game has slipped away in the past decade.
“I like the idea of us creating cricketing heroes. It’s a great fillip for the game in this country to have a world class, potential superstar in our ranks. Just think what that can do in terms of attracting people to the game.” - Andrew Strauss, ECB director of cricket and former England captain.
Stokes has been encouraged to test himself in the Indian Premier League (IPL), where he became the highest-paid player for an outstanding debut season in 2017. His burgeoning popularity in the game’s biggest market adds a compelling dimension to his offer to potential sponsors.
These have been interesting times for Ben Stokes, with milestone displays undercut by disappointment: not least a haunting final over in last year’s ICC World Twenty20 in India, where he and England conceded defeat to the improbable heroics of the West Indies’ Carlos Braithwaite. His career feels one stop short of fulfilment, but the prospect of a global final at Lord’s in two years’ time is ample incentive to pursue it. EC