SYDNEY, March 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, Inc. a subsidiary of Jarden Corporation (NYSE: JAH) today announced its official expansion into the sport of cricket with the signing of Michael Clarke, international cricket star and captain of Cricket Australia™, to a multi-year endorsement agreement. Clarke joins Rawlings international roster of professional athletes who play integral roles in the development of their on-field equipment and training products.
Clarke will travel to the United States this April to collaborate with Rawlings product management team on the development of his signature fielders' glove line, set to debut worldwide later this year. "Cricket and baseball share many game-related characteristics, with fielding as a primary pillar in both sports," said Kurt Hunzeker, senior director of brand marketing for St. Louis-based Rawlings. "With that in mind, Rawlings expansion into cricket is a logical next step, and Michael is the perfect ambassador for Rawlings. His innovative leadership, aggressive style and unparalleled passion align perfectly with the Rawlings brand, and we look forward to a long-lasting partnership with one of the best athletes in the world." While this marks the first-ever endorsement deal for Rawlings in the sport of cricket, the brand has enjoyed significant sales increases in the past three years of its iconic fielders' gloves, the same gloves used by baseball players throughout the world, in cricket-centric markets such as India and South Africa, in addition to Clarke's native Australia. Clarke began using Rawlings fielders' gloves 12 years ago at the suggestion of Mike Young, Cricket Australia's current fielding coach and former manager of Australia's national baseball team. Hunzeker saw firsthand cricketers' integration of baseball fielding gloves during a visit to Australia this January, as players participating in the KFC T20 Big Bash League used their Rawlings fielders' gloves during training. Young introduced the two shortly after Clarke's Australia whitewashed England 5-0 in the Ashes. "I'm honored to be able to partner with such an iconic American brand," Clarke said. "I'm excited about this partnership with Rawlings, my visit to the United States next month, and developing the Michael Clarke line of Rawlings fielders' gloves." Clarke's endorsement agreement continues Rawlings' aggressive push in the global sporting goods marketplace. In January, Rawlings signed new 3-year pacts with the Australian Baseball League™ and Baseball Australia™, establishing Rawlings as the Official Baseball, Batting Helmet and Catchers' Gear Provider for both organizations. Last month, Rawlings announced its new partnership with the Chinese Baseball Association, establishing Rawlings as the Official Apparel and Equipment Sponsor for the national governing body.