LONDON (Reuters) - England's cricket team, deposed by South Africa as the world's top test side, has begun the search for a new shirt sponsor after Brit Insurance said it would not renew its contract when it expires in early 2014.
The company's name appears on all England playing and training kit under a four-year agreement signed in 2010. The contract is due to expire at the end of the 2013-14 Ashes series in Australia.
"We hope to find someone before spring 2014," England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) commercial director John Perera told Reuters.
"If the logistics work and someone came in early we could do something in time for the (2013-14) Ashes down under," he added, estimating the existing deal was worth up to 18 million pounds ($29 million).
Brit Insurance said the decision to end the sponsorship was because of changes to its business. It sold many of its British domestic operations this year and is focusing on global underwriting.
There is growing evidence that companies are looking closely at what they are getting from their sponsorship agreements when corporate budgets are tight.
UK Athletics is yet to announce a new sponsor after insurer Aviva said it was ending a 13-year partnership.
Cycling fears more teams will follow the example of Dutch lender Rabobank and drop out of the sport as it struggles to limit the damage from the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.
English cricket will enjoy a high profile next year after this season's test series with South Africa, a battle for world number one status, was overshadowed by the London Olympics.
The England team host Australia in a five-test Ashes series in the middle of next year before the two teams clash again down under in 2013-14.
Investec sponsors England's home tests under a 10-year deal signed last November that gives the specialist bank and asset managing company naming rights to matches and allows it to advertise its brand on the outfield and stumps.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)