Major League Cricket: The next step in franchise cricket


The Major League Cricket’s inaugural season is underway, as Twenty20 cricket has finally made it to the shores of the United States of America. 

There have been attempts in the past to launch professional cricket leagues in the nation. A competition known as Pro Cricket was launched in the United States in 2004. However, it lasted just a single season – due to a variety of factors including a lack of funding which meant the league could not attract the top players.

The MLC could replicate the IPL’s success

Twenty20 cricket was first introduced in England in 2003, and franchise competitions have been launched all over the globe ever since. The Indian Premier League was launched in 2008 and has become the most popular competition in the world since.

The IPL franchises will coincidentally have a huge influence on the new league established in North America. Four of the six teams that will compete in the Major League Cricket are owned by IPL franchises. 

The spread of T20 cricket across the globe massively increased the popularity of the overall sport. The format of T20 changed the way that the sport was played – batters can now score faster and play more inventive shots which has made the sport much more attractive to new fans.

Over a long-term period, the MLC could replicate the IPL’s success. A fast-paced version of cricket can be introduced to US sports fans which could further engage existing fans and allow the sport to accumulate new fans. Growing the sports’ viewership in the US was a key aim of USA Cricket when they proposed the league back in 2018.

Sports like baseball have been preferred over cricket for decades in the US. Baseball typically offers fast-paced contests that are engaging to all sorts of fans. However, T20 cricket can similarly offer fast-paced affairs, with batters quickly scoring points, and most vitally an absence of regular stoppages and breaks. 

The format of traditional cricket has held the sport back in many areas of the world. But the gradual expansion of T20 cricket is helping to improve the worldwide popularity of the sport. There is not a more beneficial sports market to enter than the US, where a wide variety of sports are followed in vast numbers.

In India, the introduction of T20 cricket was a catalyst for creating the biggest cricket league on Earth. In the US, with the backing of Indian franchises, and sustained investment, there is no reason the MLC cannot replicate the success of the biggest cricket league in the world over a long-term period.

The MLC’s format

The MLC will be contested by six teams. The Texas Super Kings are financially backed by the Chennai Super Kings.

Texas has performed well in the group stage of the first MLC tournament. In the Major League Cricket Odds, they are offered at -110 to defeat the San Francisco Unicorns which would secure their qualification to the next round. The Unicorns are one of two teams that are not owned by IPL-related bodies.

OddsChecker compares a variety of sportsbooks to ensure you receive the best odds for the first edition of the MLC this summer.

The Seattle Orcas are owned by the GMR Group who also own the Delhi Capitals – an IPL franchise. The Los Angeles Knight Riders are owned by the Kolkata Knight Riders franchise of the IPL.

MI New York is owned by Indiawin Sports, who own many successful franchises around the globe, most notably the Mumbai Indians in the IPL. The Washington Freedom round out the lineup for the inaugural season, they are the other team that are not affiliated with an IPL franchise.

The teams will play out an 18-game tournament, which began on July 13th, 2023, and the final will take place on July 30th, 2023. The games will follow a traditional T20 format – each team will face 20 overs each featuring six bowled deliveries for the batsman

The teams will all play each other once with the top four teams in the standings advancing to the next stage. The teams that finish first and second will play out a qualifier round. The winner advances directly to the finals, with the loser receiving a chance at redemption in the challenger round.

The teams that finish in third and fourth place, face off in the eliminator round. The winner receives a place in the challenger round, against the loser of the qualifier. The winner of that tie then takes the second Finals spot, with a shot to become the first champion of the MLC.

Each team has to feature between 16 and 19 players in their squad. There is a maximum cap of nine international players permitted in each squad – this is to encourage the development of homegrown US talents. 

The new international T20 rules have introduced a cap of just four overseas players. This will have to be adhered to in a reasonable amount of time by the MLC – possibly by next year’s tournament.

The standout stars

The MLC’s teams have persuaded a number of exceptional cricket stars to bring their talents to the US. These could provide the biggest impact on worldwide audiences – fans from Asia, Australia, and beyond could follow their favorite stars in the newly established cricket league.

The LA Knight Riders have acquired former Trinidadian international Sunil Narine ahead of the maiden MLC competition. Narine will lead the US team as captain and will be one of the most experienced stars that steps onto the turf in the competition this summer.

MI New York boasts arguably the best spinner in T20 cricket in their squad, Rashid Khan. The Afghanistan International has played for a wide range of T20 franchises including the Gujarat Titans in the IPL.

Khan is a genuine superstar of T20 cricket and is one of the names that will help attract a huge fanbase to follow the MLC this summer and in the coming years.

Aaron Finch is the standout star for the San Francisco Unicorns. He is a former Australian national team captain and will have fans from back home following his North American adventures. 

Finch most recently played for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL, but he has a wide range of experience playing for T20 franchises all over the globe.

Worldwide TV broadcasts

Many sports broadcasting outlets around the world have secured rights to provide live footage of the MLC competition. The league is braced for a huge amount of viewers from various areas of the world.

Willow and the CBS Sports Network will broadcast the fixtures within the US. Sports18 has acquired the rights in India. In the United Kingdom, the newly rebranded TNT Sports will allow fans to keep up with the action across the Atlantic Ocean.

Fox Cricket is presenting the action in Australia, with Sky Sport delivering the action in New Zealand.

The nations with the biggest cricket fanbases will be broadcasting all of the footage from the competition live. There is huge potential for the MLC to become a mainstay on the T20 cricket calendar. 

Minor Cricket League

The Minor Cricket League was established as part of the MLC proposal, in order to improve the quality of the competition long-term. The MNC will serve as a development league for homegrown players to develop.

The overall plan to revolutionize cricket in the US should significantly increase the talent pool of homegrown cricket players. With huge investments in place, and the eyes of the major cricketing nations watching on, the US could genuinely be the next nation to make a huge impact on T20 cricket.

In the coming years, the league could expand to feature more teams, and more top players may make the move to the US. The MLC could produce a similar impact on the sport that the IPL had. With many legendary players joining a new franchise, fans may not be able to resist keeping track of some of the biggest cricket stars in the world.