English white-ball cricketers, including Jason Roy and Reece Topley, are contemplating terminating their ECB contracts to participate in the inaugural season of Major League Cricket (MLC) in the United States. While players on full central contracts are unlikely to be part of MLC, Roy, who holds an incremental deal with the ECB, intends to terminate his contract to join the league. Topley, recovering from shoulder surgery, is also considering this move, pending his fitness status.
MLC is scheduled to take place from July 13 to 30 at Grand Prairie Stadium in Texas and has garnered significant support from India and Australia, with four out of the six franchises having IPL team owners as investors. However, concerns have arisen within the English cricket community regarding potential clashes between MLC and future editions of the Hundred.
Due to the likelihood of MLC’s expansion and direct clashes with the Hundred, the ECB will not grant No-Objection Certificates (NOCs) for contracted players to participate in MLC. While players on full white-ball contracts are unlikely to negotiate releases to play in the US, it would make financial sense for those on incremental contracts.
ECB’s incremental contracts, valued at around £66,000 per year, serve as top-ups to county salaries. Six players currently hold such contracts for the 2022-23 cycle: Harry Brook, Dawid Malan, Matthew Potts, Roy, Topley, and David Willey. Surrey, Roy’s team, anticipates his participation in MLC, most likely for LA Knight Riders, between the end of the Blast season and the start of the Hundred. In order to do so, Roy would need to secure a release from his incremental contract. If Surrey reaches Finals Day, Roy will be available for them but would miss the start of MLC.
While Topley has not signed a deal to play in MLC, he is also contemplating his options. His decision will depend partly on the progress of his rehabilitation following shoulder surgery. Expressing his ambitions in white-ball cricket, Topley stated his desire to participate in multiple IPL seasons.
Requesting a release from an incremental deal at this stage of the year would cost players approximately £20,000, as England contracts run from October to September. Participating in MLC would provide compensation for the loss of earnings incurred by leaving an England contract, as each MLC franchise has a purse of $1.15 million (£930,000 approx.) to cover player expenses.
The ECB is currently restructuring its central contract system for the 2023-24 season to accommodate the growth of franchise leagues. Decisions made by players to leave incremental contracts will not affect their selection prospects moving forward.
The Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) clarified that the decision to issue an NOC during the season rests with the employers and is covered by the comprehensive standard playing contract agreed upon by the ECB, counties, and the PCA.
MLC has already announced several overseas signings, including Marcus Stoinis, Quinton de Kock, Wanindu Hasaranga, Anrich Nortje, and Glenn Phillips, with Trent Boult and Adam Zampa expected to join in the coming weeks.