The Major League Cricket (MLC) organisers say there is “no animosity” between the league and the ECB, and are hoping that England’s leading white-ball players will sign up for the second season of the league in 2024.
MLC’s inaugural season runs from July 13 to 30 and player salaries are highly competitive, with leading overseas players earning US$ 175,000 (£135,000 approx.) to play a minimum of five games.
The ECB told centrally contracted players that they would not be given no-objection certificates (NOCs) to play that MLC and Roy requested a release from his incremental contract in order to take up his deal with Los Angeles Knight Riders, an affiliate of his IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders.
“We’d probably like a couple more of the [England] guys, to be honest,” Justin Geale, MLC’s tournament director, told ESPNcricinfo. “But there are enough players to go around and we’re certainly not here to start a war with anyone.
“It’d probably be a big ask for the red-ball, centrally contracted players but I think for some of the white-ball guys, there’s a world where they come over for sure. It’s not a huge tournament. We’ve certainly had an awful lot of interest from English players and we’ve had some positive engagement with them.
“Ultimately, it’s what is good for the players as well. If they can supplement incomes while playing good cricket that is relevant for their careers, boards are generally okay with it. I couldn’t speak on behalf of the ECB but I certainly don’t think there’s any animosity between us, or any ‘we won’t be releasing players, leave us alone’ type thing.”
Moeen Ali confirmed last month that he has an offer – understood to be with Texas Super Kings – to play in MLC in 2024, and England do not have any white-ball internationals scheduled between the end of the men’s T20 World Cup in June and their home series against Australia in September.
MLC’s launch has already had a direct impact on the Hundred, the ECB’s 100-ball competition which is heading into its third season. While the leagues do not clash – the Hundred starts on August 1, two days after MLC’s final – several overseas players pulled out of the Hundred draft after signing deals to play in the USA.
“There’s a genuine curiosity about coming here, and it’s not a bad place to come and tour, the US: they can bring their family or their golf clubs and stay on for a bit, so we haven’t struggled there. The interest from players has been really good and there are some pretty star-studded line-ups”
Justin Geale, MLC’s tournament director
Higher salaries and the pull of IPL-affiliated teams mean the standard of overseas players in MLC is clearly higher, and with MLC expected to expand next year, the Hundred is clearly under threat. But Geale insisted, “We’re not here to compete with anyone.”
He added, “Players are really keen to come and have a look. There’s a genuine curiosity about coming here, and it’s not a bad place to come and tour, the US: they can bring their family or their golf clubs and stay on for a bit, so we haven’t struggled there. The interest from players has been really good and there are some pretty star-studded line-ups.”
“We’ve had a lot of interest from English counties who want to know more about the USA,” Geale said. “They’re curious to know about New South Wales, Victoria and their partnerships. The dialogue has been really positive.
“We’d love to host some pre-season stuff out here. The weather is such around the country that you can play and I think there could be opportunities for teams to come out and play some matches in the USA – and to commercialise as well.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98