Major League Cricket (MLC)
History of Major League Cricket (MLC)
US Cricket introduced a professional Twenty20 cricket league called Major League Cricket (MLC). Under a single-entity model, it was run by American Cricket Enterprises (ACE) and approved by USA Cricket. Play started on July 13, 2023, with six teams representing important US cities. The inaugural season ran for three weeks at Church Street Park in Morrisville, North Carolina, and Grand Prairie Stadium in Grand Prairie, Texas, ending on July 30, 2023. Many top international players were a part of this outstanding cricket league.
MLC was inaugurated in 2023 by USA Cricket, but the efforts to bring a cricket league to the USA were started way before. The first season of Minor League Cricket (MiLC), the MLC’s development league, concluded in 2021. Twenty-seven franchise-based teams competed in the league. The American Premier League, a proposed league in collaboration between the United States of America Cricket Association (USACA) and New Zealand Cricket modeled after domestic T20 competitions, is one of several attempts to host a Twenty20 (T20) cricket league in the United States. Other attempts include the short-lived Pro Cricket, which played one season in 2004.
As part of its “foundational plan” for 2020–23, USA Cricket reiterated in October 2020 that Major League Cricket will begin play in 2022. The announcement that Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan’s co-owned Kolkata Knight Riders of the Indian Premier League (IPL) would invest in ACE was made on December 1, 2020. Together with an MLC Jr. Championship and a player development program, the proposals for the Minor League Cricket and Major League Cricket Youth leagues were unveiled by MLC in February 2021. These leagues would guide younger players to advance to Major League Cricket and the national squad. The Major League Cricket season was postponed from May 2021 to May 2023 to accommodate facility development and COVID-19.
It was announced in November 2022 that the inaugural MLC season will occur at Grand Prairie Stadium from July 13–30, 2023. Six franchises will play 15 league matches in a single round-robin format during the tournament, followed by a four-match play-off phase. The MLC aspires to host games at Church Street Park in Morrisville, North Carolina, as well as a stadium that will be built in Los Angeles. American Cricket Enterprises (ACE) owned all the teams through their allowed investors. Here are the teams that feature in this league.
- Los Angeles Knight Riders
- MI New York
- San Francisco Unicorns
- Seattle Orcas
- Texas Super Kings
- Washington Freedom
MI New York defeated the Seattle Orcas to win the inaugural season of Major League Cricket, largely thanks to a stunning unbeaten century from Nicholas Pooran. Even though the Orcas got off to a fast start, with Imad Wasim bowling Steven Taylor for a duck in the first over, their opponents made short work of the target thanks to de Kock’s outstanding batting performance, which left Seattle on 183-9 off of their 20 overs. With his 137 coming off just 55 balls, Pooran, who had a successful IPL and filled in for Kieron Pollard as the NY captain in the final, smashed ten fours and 13 sixes.
- 2023: MI New York
Challenges and Controversies
In a long-running effort to introduce the sport to American audiences, Major League Cricket began play in the country in 2023. There are many challenges that MLC faces or will face in the future.
The International Cricket Council has long desired to introduce cricket to US audiences, but there has never been a sufficient market. Challenging baseball’s established dominance as America’s summer sport will always be difficult, and that won’t change anytime soon.
Competition is the main problem Major League Cricket has. Since it coincides with the peak of the English summer and the international cricket schedule, only some of the significant England stars will be available if a gap can be created. There are also other problems. Due to the concurrent Global T20 Canada match, some players chose not to participate in the MLC.
3. ICC Sanctioning Issue
After a disagreement between the USA Cricket and league organizers, it was announced that the league might have a delayed start. After negotiation, ICC gave Major League Cricket official sanction. It allowed all the board to provide NOC to their players to participate in the league.
4. Players Issues
Jason Roy became the first active player from the current England team to sign up for the inaugural Major League Cricket competition in the US. After Surrey’s T20 Blast season, Roy will depart for the United States after accepting a two-year contract offer from the Los Angeles Knight Riders. Another issue that made headlines was the involvement of IPL franchises in all major cricket leagues worldwide, including MLC. IPL owners invested in SA20 and MLC. They started negotiating with players for yearly contracts to play all leagues from their respective teams. The names of Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer were highlighted in the media, who were offered contracts from their IPL team owners.
Prize Money and Awards
MI New York will receive the $505,000 USDT first-place prize money from the Major League Cricket final. As a result of their performance in the championship game, the runner-up team, Seattle Orcas, received a prize of USD 252,500.
There are different individual awards in MLC.
- Best Domestic Players Award: Cameron Gannon
- Top Wicket Taker of the Tournament: Trent Boult
- Leading Run Scorer of the Tournament: Nicholas Pooran
- Most Valuable Player of the Tournament: Nicholas Pooran
- Player of the Tournament: Cameron Gannon
Impact on USA Cricket
A professional cricket league can help popularize the sport among Americans who may not have been exposed to it. The league can attract fans and followers, leading to a broader cricketing community in the United States. A professional league provides a platform for talented local cricketers to showcase their skills and gain exposure. This can lead to a stronger talent pool, with players potentially progressing to the USA national team and competing internationally.
MLC can inspire young athletes to take up cricket as a serious sport. Youth participation can increase through school programs, academies, and grassroots initiatives associated with the league. Establishing a professional league requires investment in cricket infrastructure, such as stadiums, training facilities, and equipment. This can lead to improved cricketing facilities nationwide.
A successful league can attract international teams and competitions to the United States. Hosting international matches and tournaments can boost the country’s cricket profile and generate economic benefits. A professional cricket league can attract sponsors and generate revenue through broadcasting rights, ticket sales, merchandise, and advertising. This revenue can be reinvested in the development of cricket at all levels.
Please visit Cricket Exchange CREX for cricket betting.