Cricket Australia restores Sheffield Cup

July 17th, 2008 - 12:45 am ICT by IANS  

Melbourne, July 16 (IANS) In a world of crass commercialisation, Cricket Australia (CA) has found a sponsor that doesn’t want its name on the prestigious Sheffield Shield - nine years after the century-old prestigious four-day state tournament became the Pura Cup. CA announced Wednesday it had entered into a long-term agreement with Weet-Bix, which replaces former sponsors National Foods that lifted its profile but attracted the ire of thousands when it replaced the name Sheffield with its milk brand Pura.

CA chief executive James Sutherland has been a driving force behind the return of the shield after his predecessor, Malcolm Speed, struck the previous unpopular sponsorship deal.

While Australia’s leading cricketers now rarely play in the competition - Glenn McGrath averaged just one game a year towards the end of his career - it continues to hold a special place for all national players.

This was highlighted in March when Michael Clarke, Brett Lee, Stuart Clark and Nathan Bracken all played in the Pura Cup final for the successful New South Wales (NSW) team following an exhausting international summer.

As a Weet-Bix ambassador Lee will be at the handover, having begun his NSW career only a year or so before the shield disappeared.

He has played just over 20 Sheffield Shield/Pura Cup matches for NSW but 68 Tests for Australia.

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