The influence of T20 leagues on international cricket is becoming more apparent. With the emergence of new T20 tournaments, players are willing to drop their international career in exchange for the lucrative financial opportunities available.
English cricketers who play limited-overs matches are in discussions to drop their contracts with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). So they can accept well-paying offers to participate in the first season of Major League Cricket (MLC) in the United States to secure their career.
It is unlikely that English players who have full central contracts will be able to play in MLC this year. However, Jason Roy, who has a different type of contract with the ECB, has stated that he intends to drop his contract in order to join the league.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) made a statement about Jason Roy. They said that Jason, who plays for England’s white-ball team, has told them that he wants to play in Major League Cricket (MLC) in the USA later this summer. The ECB has agreed to let him play in the league, but he has to give up the rest of his contract with them. Both Jason and the ECB agreed to this.
The ECB wishes to clarify that this decision will not impact Jason’s future career selection for England teams. The ECB has trust in Jason’s continued dedication to playing for England.
Reece Topley, who plays for the England team, is thinking about his career and whether it’s a good idea for him to make the same move. However, his decision might depend on how well he recovers from the shoulder surgery he had last month.
MLC is scheduled to happen from July 13-30 at Grand Prairie Stadium in Texas. The league has received significant support from India and Australia. Four out of the six teams in the league are backed by investors who own IPL teams, and Cricket Victoria and Cricket New South Wales have stakes in the other two teams.
In the league’s first season, there is a small overlap with the English summer schedule. The semi-finals and finals of the T20 Blast, a domestic tournament in England, take place on July 15. Additionally, there are two rounds of County Championship matches between Finals Day and the start of the Hundred, another domestic tournament in England that begins on August 1. However, there are concerns among English cricket officials that MLC may grow in the future and potentially clash directly with the Hundred.
The ECB has decided not to give permission (No-Objection Certificates) to contracted players, allowing them to participate in MLC. Although players with full white-ball contracts are unlikely to negotiate their release to play in the US, it would make financial sense for those with incremental contracts.
The ECB’s incremental contracts provide an additional £66,000 per year to players and act as a bonus on top of their county salaries. Six players, namely Harry Brook, Dawid Malan, Matthew Potts, Jason Roy, Reece Topley, and David Willey, have these contracts for the 2022-23 season.
Jason Roy participated in the 2023 season of the IPL as a player for the Kolkata Knight Riders. It is known that he had informal discussions with the team regarding the potential of signing a contract to play for them in other leagues, including MLC. However, his representative declined to provide any comments or further information.
Reece Topley, on the other hand, has not yet agreed to play in MLC but is also considering his options. He had drop from IPL early due to a shoulder injury and underwent surgery last month. His decisions regarding contracts will depend partly on how well his rehabilitation progresses.
During a live stream on Surrey’s platform last week, Reece Topley shared his aspirations for playing white-ball cricket. He expressed that while he used to dream of playing 100 Tests for England when he was younger, his focus has now shifted towards participating in as many IPL tournaments as possible. Topley believes that there is no longer a negative perception surrounding players who prioritize success in white-ball cricket.
England contracts typically span from October to September. If players request a release from their incremental contracts at this time of the year, they would face a loss of approximately £20,000 that can have a huge impact on their career. In contrast, each MLC team has a budget of $1.15 million (£930,000 approximately) to cover the expenses of 16 to 19 players, out of which nine can be international players. Therefore, signing deals with MLC franchises would help offset the earnings lost from leaving an England contract.
The ECB is currently working on updating its central contract system for the upcoming 2023-24 season to accommodate the rise of franchise leagues. The board assures that any choices made by players to drop their incremental contracts will not negatively impact their career of being selected for future matches.
In response to recent reports in the media, Jason Roy took to his social media accounts and released a statement to clear things about to drop his contract from ECB. He stated, “I want to clarify that I am not and will never ‘walk away from England’.
Representing to my country continues to be my proudest moment as a professional cricketer. I hope I’ll play for England for many more years, that remains my priority
I have had open and positive discussions with the ECB regarding my involvement in Major League Cricket. The ECB agreed to let me play in the league as long as they didn’t have to pay me for the rest of the contract year.
Since I focus on playing in a single format and don’t have a central contract, I saw this as a chance to participate in the competition. Currently, there are no conflicts in scheduling between England and MLC. It is beneficial for me, as an England player, to play as much competitive cricket as I can.
“I want to make it absolutely clear that my main focus is on playing for England, especially with an upcoming World Cup. It is the greatest honor for any player to receive a cap and represent their country.”
A spokesperson from the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) informed ESPNcricinfo that this matter is addressed in the standard playing contract, which has been agreed upon by the ECB, counties, and the PCA. It is entirely up to the employers (ECB) to decide whether to issue No-Objection Certificates (NOCs) to players during the season.
MLC has already announced the participation of several top T20 players from around the world. This includes names like Marcus Stoinis, Quinton de Kock, Wanindu Hasaranga, Anrich Nortje, and Glenn Phillips. In the upcoming weeks, we can also expect Trent Boult and Adam Zampa to join them as overseas signings in the league.