How America’s New Pro T20 Cricket League Can Lure Top Australian Players

The historic Major League Cricket, hoped to ignite the sport’s sleeping giant of the U.S, is poised to field a number of leading players from powerhouse Australia.

The cricket organizations from Australia’s most populous states, New South Wales and Victoria, have partnered with teams in America’s new professional T20 league, which will launch in July at the newly-constructed Grand Prairie Stadium near Dallas.

The six-team tournament, comprising 19 games over 17 days, will feature franchises from Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C, Seattle and New York City.

Franchise names, rosters and salary caps should be revealed at the competition’s inaugural draft on March 19 at the Space Center Houston, located at the NASA Johnson Space Center.

The MLC has serious financial backing having secured more than $40 million in funding and over $100 million in “handshakes” with private investors including tech giants MicrosoftMSFT

Remuneration is expected to be in the realm of similar start ups in the UAE and South Africa to surely tempt star players around the world.

“Our goal is to bring the best players to the USA. We need to be competitive with the benchmark outside of the Indian Premier League,” MLC co-founder Vijay Srinivasan told me late last year.

While it’s still unknown which players will effectively be pioneers for MLC, there could well be a sprinkling of players from Australia – a major breeding ground for cricket talent and acumen.

Cricket NSW recently launched a “strategic” partnership with the Washington DC franchise, which includes potential playing opportunities for NSW-based players in the MLC.

“With the global cricket landscape currently undergoing significant transition, we view the United States as a market with immense growth potential,” said Cricket NSW chief executive Lee Germon.

Cricket Victoria, similarly, have developed ties with the San Francisco franchise. “We have a responsibility to present new opportunities to Victorian cricket,” said boss Nick Cummins. “In a rapidly evolving global cricket landscape, we believe our partnership with San Francisco and MLC gives us a chance to do just that.”

It is unclear if other Australian state cricket organizations will follow suit although the MLC is likely to have a sizeable footprint from owners of franchises in the Indian Premier League, who are expanding their tentacles across the T20 franchise landscape.

There will be much interest over which players are lured to the much-hyped league, which has been years in the making and sure to attract a lot of attention given its glitzy location.

It can be safely assumed that there will be a number of Australian players competing although the country’s Test players will be unavailable because the MLC’s first edition clashes with the upcoming Ashes series in the U.K.

That means star batter Steve Smith, who has a special affinity with New York which has been well documented over the years, won’t be able to put his hand up although he reportedly is eyeing an opportunity down the track.

There will be intrigue over the developments of veteran opener David Warner, who flirted with joining the UAE league before nervous Cricket Australia officials were able to get the feisty batter to re-commit to the Big Bash League.

But Warner’s Test career is seemingly at the crossroads and he’s no guarantee to be selected for the Ashes touring squad. If he misses out, which would likely draw the curtains on his long Test career, then Warner could end up at MLC which would vault him to being the marquee player of the competition.

That’s all innuendo for now as everyone waits patiently for MLC to be unveiled.