Npower, the national energy supplier, is in advanced talks with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) about taking over from Cornhill Insurance as title sponsor of England's home test matches.
The Cornhill deal, one of the most coveted and recognised sponsorships in British sport, expired this summer after 23 years. It is widely credited as having been a major factor in Cornhill's transformation from a little-known brand to one of the UK's major insurance providers.
An Npower spokesman said: 'We are looking seriously at the test match sponsorship as part of our brand development and overall marketing strategy.'
The ECB is understood to be seeking at least pounds 4m a year from the new deal. The length of the tie-up has yet to be announced.
ECB marketing director Terry Blake said he was talking to a number of companies. 'We hope to have a deal wrapped up before Christmas,' he said.
Npower has recently signed sponsorship deals with the FA Premier League and ITV drama The Bill (Marketing, August 24).
The ECB is also hunting a backer for the County Championship, after PPP Healthcare's withdrew from its four-year package on Monday.
The move comes halfway through PPP's tenure as sponsor, as parent company AXA moves its focus away from the brand.
A spokesman for PPP said that the decision had been taken for 'commercial reasons', rather than anything to do with English cricket in general or the ECB.