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    Major League Cricket: An Overview
Major League Cricket: An Overview
Major League Cricket. Source: Caught At Point

Major League Cricket: An Overview

Formation and Early Development (2018-2021)

In November 2018, USA Cricket announced its intention to establish a domestic T20 league by 2021, aiming to engage existing fans, attract new ones, and develop cricket infrastructure across the United States. In May 2019, American Cricket Enterprises (ACE) secured a $1 billion investment to fund the league and support the US national teams. Key partners included Satyan Gajwani and Vineet Jain of The Times Group, and Willow TV founders Sameer Mehta and Vijay Srinivasan. ACE also took on commercial activities for T20I and ODI matches hosted by the United States.

In January 2019, USA Cricket replaced the USACA, which had been expelled from the International Cricket Council (ICC) due to governance issues. The new governing body aimed to make cricket more mainstream in the United States. At the 2020 annual general meeting, plans to launch Major League Cricket (MLC) in 2021 were announced, alongside a 22-team development league, Minor League Cricket (MiLC), set to begin in the summer. However, the MiLC launch was postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Launch and Expansion (2022-2023)

In May 2022, MLC raised $120 million in its Series A and A1 fundraising rounds, with notable investors including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Ross Perot Jr. The funds were earmarked for building stadiums and first-class facilities to accelerate cricket's growth in the US. The inaugural season of MiLC Youth began in July 2022, with the New Jersey Stallions winning the championship.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Source: CNN
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Source: CNN

MLC's first season was announced for July 13-30, 2023, featuring six teams representing major US cities: Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C. The tournament followed a single round-robin format with 15 league matches, followed by a four-match playoff phase. Matches were held at Grand Prairie Stadium in Texas and Church Street Park in North Carolina.

The player draft for MLC's inaugural season took place on March 19, 2023, at the NASA Johnson Space Centre in Houston. Conducted over nine rounds, the draft included selections for both general and U-23 players. Each team had a budget exceeding $1 million, with salary caps in place for overseas and domestic players. The draft concluded with six franchises ready to compete.

Inaugural Season and Reception (July 2023)

MLC's first season commenced on July 13, 2023, and concluded on July 30, 2023. The tournament attracted significant attention, featuring international stars like Jason Roy, Quinton de Kock, Rashid Khan, Anrich Nortje, and Aaron Finch. The competition included 19 matches and showcased thrilling cricket, although the results did not count towards official records as the USA is not a full-member nation.

Grandest Stage of Cricketing Titans of Major League Cricket. Source: BJ Sports
Grandest Stage of Cricketing Titans of Major League Cricket. Source: BJ Sports

Future Plans and Continued Growth (2024)

In December 2023, it was announced that MLC's second season would begin on July 5, 2024, shortly after the ICC Men's T20 World Cup. Matches would be played at Grand Prairie Stadium and other venues. By February 2024, lists of retained players were released, and Cognizant was named the title sponsor. In May 2024, the ICC granted the tournament official List A status, officially recognising MLC as a T20 league.

MLC's chief executive, Vijay Srinivasan, highlighted ambitions to expand the league to ten teams and increase the number of matches by 2025. The league's current six teams—Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C.—are owned by ACE, with plans to build dedicated cricket stadiums in these cities to support future growth.

MLC's chief executive, Vijay Srinivasan. Source: ESPNcricinfo
MLC's chief executive, Vijay Srinivasan. Source: ESPNcricinfo

Teams and Players

MLC began with six teams: Los Angeles Knight Riders, MI New York, San Francisco Unicorns, Seattle Orcas, Texas Super Kings, and Washington Freedom. The teams featured prominent international players, enhancing the league's appeal. The player draft system ensured a mix of overseas and domestic talent, with franchises allowed a maximum of nine overseas players out of an 18-player squad.

Media and Broadcast

Major League Cricket's matches were broadcast live on TNT Sports in the UK, with streaming available on Discovery+. This allowed fans to enjoy the action, highlights, and preview shows from anywhere in the world, increasing the league's global reach.

Conclusion

Major League Cricket represents a significant step in introducing world-class T20 cricket to the United States. With strong support from investors, strategic planning, and the participation of international stars, MLC aims to establish cricket as a mainstream sport in the US. The league's continued expansion and the construction of dedicated facilities reflect its commitment to long-term growth and success in American sports culture.

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