England's Test cricket side might have clinched a famous series win in South Africa, their first in the Rainbow Nation for over a decade but, off the pitch, the England Cricket Board (ECB) has seen its stumps shattered by Waitrose's decision to not renew its current sponsorship deal.
The retailer, which has recently changed its top management, informed the ECB it will walk away from its role when the current deal expires after next winter's tour of India, ending a partnership which began in 2013 after the retailer replaced insurance firm Brit on the shirts of all England teams.
The decision is a massive blow for the ECB, which has traditionally struggled to attract main sponsors of Waitrose's profile from outside the financial industry, particularly as the retailer sponsored all England teams and was involved at grassroots level.
"We are talking to a range of potential partners keen on being involved with the team," a spokesman for the ECB said.
Waitrose were reportedly not prepared to meet the 100% increase the ECB are understood to want on the current £3m-a-year deal, while rumours suggesting the ECB hired agency TRM Partners to seek a new sponsors before Waitrose formally announced it would not extend the deal did not please the retailer.
Optical retail chain Specsavers is expected to replace LV= as the main sponsor of the County Championship, although the ECB, which earlier this month extended its partnership with Yorkshire Tea for a further three years, is yet to formally confirm the deal.