London, Sep 6 (UiTV/IANS) – England’s former right-arm pace bowler and a member of the 2019 World Cup-winning team, Liam Plunkett, has predicted an ‘explosion’ of T20 cricket in the United States, and revealed that more than 100 million pound sterling in funding from private investors such as tech giants Microsoft and Adobe has been secured for Major League Cricket (MLC).
Plunkett, 37, recently signed a three-year deal with The Philadelphians in Minor League Cricket (MiLC) in the 2022 edition. MiLC is the feeder to MLC.
“It’s go big or go home. That is how they do stuff in America. And with the money that is behind this, it is going to be massive. I think it will explode,” Plunkett, who has played 89 ODIs and 22 T20Is for England, was quoted as saying by Daily Mail on Tuesday.
The tall pacer added the new professional T20 league will certainly attract top players from across the world including English stars. The MLC will commence next summer with a three-week league.
The report added that IPL side Kolkata Knight Riders have acquired one of the six franchises. The six teams will be based in Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC.
Cricket is fast emerging as a major sport in the US, with India and the West Indies recently playing two T20I games of the five-match series in Lauderhill, and the country set to co-host the ICC T20 World Cup 2024 along with the West Indies, with 20 teams taking part for the first time.
Plunkett felt the MLC T20 league could potentially pull some big names away from England’s T20 Blast.
“Americans want to watch the best and I think we can attract them,” says Plunkett, who moved to the US after quitting English cricket last year.
“I think they will definitely jump on board when they see how big it is. With how many people love cricket here and the way Americans put on a show, you will get packed-out crowds. Hopefully you will get people like Jonny Bairstow, Andre Russell, all of these guys coming across to play. It is a lot of people’s dream to play sport in America.”
Co-founder of the MLC T20 league, Sameer Mehta was quoted as saying in the report that the tournament will have decent salary caps, which will attract some of the best in the business.
“We are quite hopeful that the best cricketers in the world will come and we will have very decent salary caps. They will be pretty much up there with any of the other leagues outside of the IPL. I expect this to be very attractive and the US is also an attractive destination.
“June and July are the months we will be focusing on and we are lucky to not have too many clashes with international cricket or league cricket outside of England,” added Mehta.
“The US is already the fourth or fifth largest media market for cricket in the world. From our broadcasting days, we know there are probably about eight million people in the US who know about cricket, about 4m fans who will bother to watch a cricket game and about 1.2m to 1.5m households that will actually pay good dollars for a cricket game,” added Mehta.
“In terms of economics, we are gung-ho about doubling our audience base in the next five years. If we do that, we’ll be in the top three leagues in the world.”
Reports suggest MLC is building six venues as per the International Cricket Council (ICC) requirements. “The first will open in Grand Prairie, Dallas County next year and will be the main venue for MLC’s inaugural season with a permanent capacity of up to 9,000, increased to 12,000 with temporary seating,” the report added.