MLC announce 2024 schedule, Texas and North Carolina set to host

USA Cricket and Seattle Orcas bowler Harmeet Singh celebrates a wicket during the 2023 MLC season.

Major League Cricket announced their 2024 season schedule on Tuesday.

Season two of MLC will kick off at Church Street Park in Morrisville, North Carolina on July 5 at 3:30pm local time, a rematch of the 2023 MLC Final showdown, as Seattle Orcas take on MI New York.

Getting the band back together

Seattle Orcas star and USA all rounder Harmeet Singh hopes to start off on the front foot against the team that beat them in last season’s finale. “I feel this year is a new year, we start fresh, there’s a lot of positives from last year,” Harmeet told Emerging Cricket.

“I think the only two games we lost were lost because of individual brilliance, and those things happen in cricket.” 

After starting the 2023 season undefeated after three games, Seattle were stunned by the 0-4 LA Knight Riders when Rilee Rossouw scored 78 off of 38, chasing down Seattle’s 170 with five balls to spare and sealing the Knight Riders lone win. 

Seattle would rebound against MI New York to win their final regular season game, and then defeat Texas Super Kings in the Qualifier to advance straight to the league final. Nicholas Pooran would exact revenge on the big stage, powering MINY to victory in just 16 overs with a league best innings of 137 not out from 55 balls. 

In spite of the loss, Harmeet continues to have faith in the Seattle process and their versatile roster. 

“As a group we did nothing extraordinarily wrong, we did everything in our power,” Harmeet continued.

“Most games we succeeded and crossed the line. In the finals, we had runs on the board, but Pooran had different ideas.”

“Looking forward, we’ve upgraded from last year with overseas and locals. We have a lot of options to play with. Everyone can bat and bowl. Balance wise, I’m pretty happy. We’re very well balanced and we’ll be solid again, I think.”

1,200 miles away and five hours after Harmeet’s Orcas take the field, the Texas Super Kings will face LA Knight Riders at Grand Prairie Stadium in a rematch of last season’s first ever MLC game.

“I was very excited today when I saw the fixtures, and super excited to start the campaign again on the opening day,” USA and LAKR fast bowler Ali Khan told Emerging Cricket.

“What better way to start off than at Grand Prairie. I have great memories from last season bowling the very first ball.”

“Last year things didn’t go our way against the Texas Super Kings, and we got off to a bad start. But this year we are really looking forward to our opening game and hopefully getting the result in our favour this time. In this league, a good start is always important.” 

The schedule format

Each team will play three times at Church Street Park and four times at Grand Prairie Stadium for a total of seven games per team during the league stage. This means that each team will play every team once and double up twice against select other teams. Seattle, San Francisco and LA Knight Riders will each play each other twice, while MI New York, Texas Super Kings and Washington Freedom will also match up twice, effectively separating the league into west and east groups for the purpose of scheduling. The league will still utilize a single table to determine playoff qualifications and seeding.

Following the league stage, the top four teams will enter the playoffs, set to begin on Wednesday, July 24 culminating in a final on July 28. All four playoff games will be hosted at Grand Prairie Stadium.

The venues

Church Street Park and Grand Prairie Stadium successfully hosted the inaugural season of Major League Cricket in 2023, at times in front of sell-out crowds.

Stadium infrastructure has always been one of MLC’s largest hurdles as the upstart league looks to make inroads in franchise namesake cities throughout the USA. While the large cities that were chosen for MLC franchises feature significant traditional cricket fan bases, they also present multiple problems in terms of securing venues capable of hosting games. The unique requirements and pure size of a cricket playing surface demands purpose built stadia leaving very few and expensive options for owners and league officials.

With the ICC spending tens of millions to build a temporary 34,000 seat popup stadium at Eisenhower Park in Nassau County, New York for June’s ICC T20 Men’s World Cup, there was hope that MLC would be able to utilize the venue for league games in July. A high asking price by the ICC and Nassau County to use the stadium, which would have had to remain intact at a public park unutilized from mid June until early July, meant that MLC would have had to take a big loss to play a few league games at a ground with no flood lights.

Starting in 2020, MLC spent roughly $20 million to rebuild what is now Grand Prairie Stadium from a Minor League Baseball stadium. With a maximum capacity of around 7,000, Grand Prairie was a celebrated success during the inaugural MLC season, especially for Texas Super Kings games, and is set to feature as one of three USA sites for the 2024 T20 Men’s World Cup.

Church Street Park, home of the 2021 and 2022 Minor League Cricket Finals weekend, has established a reputation as one of the top grounds in the USA. Located in Morrisville, North Carolina, the local community support has become well known throughout the cricketing world. While the ground was not certified for the World Cup, it reliably fills with fans for every big event. 

After a well supported showing at both Grand Prairie and Church Street Park in 2023, MLC decided that it made sense to return to the 2023 host venues for 2024.

In the meantime

The season will be preceded by a domestic Supplemental Draft in late June, allowing teams to flesh out their domestic rosters. The supplemental draft was designed to give undrafted domestic players the opportunity to impress teams between March’s Domestic Draft and late June. Mohammad Mohsin demonstrated the value of the supplemental draft in 2023, taking 9 wickets in 7 games last season for the Texas Super Kings after failing to be picked in the initial domestic draft.

Twelve of 15 current members of the recently announced USA Cricket T20 World Cup squad have a place on an MLC roster. With the World Cup around the corner, Aaron Jones, Nisarg Patel and Jessy Singh will have an edge over supplemental draft hopefuls should they find success on the big stage.

For the twelve USA cricketers who already have an MLC home, the Major League season provides an opportunity to build on World Cup success or immediately put lessons into practice.

“We’re going to play against the best opponents in the world,” Harmeet exclaimed. “That’s going to give us very good feedback as players, in terms of where we stand. The World Cup is a dream for us all, and playing in high pressure games before MLC is going to help us personally, mindset wise.”

After dominating for three seasons in Minor League Cricket and performing for Seattle in MLC, Harmeet earned selection onto the USA squad in March and promptly won the Player of the Tournament award in his debut series against Canada, thanks to two Player of the Match awards in four games. With an upcoming series against Bangladesh, followed by World Cup warm up games, USA will play in their first ever T20 World Cup right here on home soil.

“There’s a lot to come this summer, and it’s a big challenge for the USA to succeed as a whole and create some upsets and be a stepping stone for cricket in the USA. I’m looking at it very optimistically, and we can do a lot as a cricketing community.” 

Tune in to Emerging Cricket’s Big Innings podcast every week for more on USA Cricket and Major League Cricket news. This week’s guest: Jomboy

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