Finally, after much hype and postponements due to Covid-19, the first professional T20 cricket league in the USA is becoming a reality with the inaugural season of Major League Cricket taking place from 13-30 July 2023.
The six-team, 19-game tournament will include franchises from Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Seattle and New York City. The franchise names, rosters and salary caps are expected to be announced early next year.
Boasting a strong South Asian expat community, Dallas has been designated as the hub of cricket in the United States with the newly constructed Grand Prairie Stadium, located in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex with a capacity of 7500, to be the main venue competition tournament for the first edition and home to the Dallas MLC team.
Playing in July is hoped to attract some of the best players in the world during some wiggle room in cricket’s congested calendar. There are no rival T20 leagues, which are popping up in abundance around the world marked by next year’s lucrative new UAE
United Arab Emirates
Salary caps will be announced ahead of the February player draft, but the salary is expected to rival those nascent leagues that offer top players $450,000 a season.
“We would like the United States to be one of the best leagues in the world. We should have a decent salary cap,” co-founder Sameer Mehta told me in September.
MLC is also set to attract players attracted by being a pioneering part of launching cricket into the world’s largest sports market. Those with connections to the United States, whether through family or regular travel, will be targeted by tournament officials knowing they have a stylish and attractive destination for many.
After the well-known turmoil that has long hampered the development of US cricket which has become nothing more than a cautionary tale, MLC is no fool’s gold having secured more than $40 million in funding and over $100 million in “handshakes” with private investors including tech giants Microsoft
The Kolkata Knight Riders, led by Bollywood superstar Shah Ruhk Khan, are a founding investor and are helping build a Los Angeles cricket stadium with MLC hoping to help cricket bid for inclusion in the 2028 Olympic Games.
Despite the family troubles brewing at the national governing body, after a period of stability, cricket really feels it can at least carve a niche in such a sought-after venue through the MLC, the 2024 T20 World Cup co -hosted by the USA and potentially cricket is part of the Los Angeles Olympics.
“The eyes of the cricketing world will be on the launch of Major League Cricket next summer, with the stars of the game battling it out for three weeks of frenetic T20 action,” said tournament director Justin Geale.
“The launch of MLC will transform American cricket and provide one of the best platforms in the sport for the world’s most elite players to showcase their skills, while also accelerating the development of domestic talent for inclusion in the league.”
Debut season games could also be played in other destinations, including Morrisville and Florida, areas with large South Asian expat communities.