Melbourne, Dec.10 : Australia's all-conquering cricketers are still seen as the most appropriate sponsors for products.
According to a survey by Sweeney Sports, five current and former cricketers are in the top 10 brand ambassadors list.
Australian captain Ricky Ponting was named the most appropriate sport star for any brand to associate themselves with, knocking Ian Thorpe off the top perch.
Glove man Adam Gilchrist came second on the list.
Thorpe fell by six awareness points following revelations of an alleged failed drug test earlier this year, and his decision to reduce his profile until he was cleared of the charges - but he remains one of the nation's most bankable athletes.
Thorpe was followed by soccer star Harry Kewell, swimmer Grant Hackett, and cricketers Brett Lee, Glen McGrath and Steve Waugh.
Waugh and Thorpe's inclusion on the list signalled another trend - the nation's love affair with its retired superstars.
Years after retirement from professional sport, Waugh, Thorpe, Wimbledon champion Pat Rafter and sprinter Cathy Freeman are all in the top ten.
Sweeney sports general manager Todd Deacon says the controversy-free performance of Australia's cricketers has singled them out in the minds of consumers as appropriate sponsorship properties.
"They are getting a lot of media coverage and they are successful - you have those two things combined at the moment," The Australian quoted Deacon, as saying.
He says Ricky Ponting's rise to the top of the table is due to a number of factors.
"He has a huge profile, is arguably one of our best ever batsmen, and is increasing his standard of play. From that awareness and appropriateness point of view, he is growing as a figure and he is now considered a good role model."
Shane Warne is another retiree who has had a resurgence in the past year, lifting 11 points to seize 16th place on the list.
The bolter for the year has been Andrew Symonds, who jumped 19 points to come in at equal 22nd with Kostya Tszyu and Tim Cahill.(ANI)
© 2007 ANI