English opener Jason Roy on Thursday confirmed his plans to terminate his England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) incremental contract in order to play in the Major League Cricket, the newly announced T20 franchise tournament in the United States of America.
The MLC is due to take place from July 13-30 at Grand Prairie Stadium in Texas and has significant backing from both India and Australia: four of the six franchises have investors who own IPL teams, while Cricket Victoria and Cricket New South Wales have stakes in the other two.
The league’s inaugural season features a minor clash with the English summer: the semi-finals and finals of the T20 Blast take place on July 15, while there are two rounds of County Championship fixtures between Finals Day and the start of the Hundred on August 1.
So, English players on full central contracts are unlikely to feature in MLC this year.
“England Men’s white-ball batter Jason Roy has informed the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) that he wishes to take up an agreement with Major League Cricket in the USA later this summer,” the ECB said in a statement.
“The ECB have agreed for him to play in the competition on the proviso that he gives up the remainder of his ECB incremental contract, which both parties have agreed to,” it added.
On his part, Roy put out a statement on social media saying that he never will ‘walk away from England’ despite not having central contract.
“Following a bit of unwanted speculation over the last 24 hours, I wanted to clarify that I am not and never will ‘walk away from England’. Representing my country continues to be my proudest moment as a professional cricketer. I hope to play for England for many more years, that remains my priority,” the opener said.
“I’ve had clear and supportive conversations with the ECB about participating in Major League Cricket. The ECB were happy with me to play in the competition as long as they didn’t have to pay me for the remainder of the contractual year.
“As a single format player with no central contract I wanted to take the opportunity to play this competition as there are currently no scheduling conflicts with England. It benefits me as an England player to play as much competitive cricket as possible,” he added.
The 32-year old Roy further stated that his priority is England cricket, especially with a World Cup set to be played this year.
The ECB too in its statement expounded that belief.
“The ECB wish to clarify that this decision will not affect Jason’s selection for England teams going forward. We have absolute confidence and faith that Jason is committed to England cricket,” it said.
With this, Roy became the first major England player to have taken the route towards franchise cricket, and to be contracted by private entities. He was picked up in the Indian Premier League by the Kolkata Knight Riders, who also have franchise in the MLC.