Home Events Major League Cricket Shah Rukh Khan’s Knight Riders empire invests in USA's Major League Cricket

Shah Rukh Khan’s Knight Riders empire invests in USA’s Major League Cricket

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American Cricket Enterprises, Major League Cricket, and USA Cricket have entered into a ‘long-term strategic partnership’ with the Knight Riders Group. The deal will see the Knight Riders contingent invest financially while collaborating with ACE leadership to plan and roll out the ambitious MLC, currently set for 2022.

Along with the welcomed investment, the news should increase MLC’s credibility in the eyes of many curious expats in the United States, as well as those who follow franchise T20 cricket around the world. Shah Rukh Khan, the majority owner of The Knight Riders Group, is one of the world’s biggest entertainment superstars, and he’s utilised that fame over the years to amplify the Knight Riders brand. 

Khan has owned the Kolkata Knight Riders franchise since 2008 via his production and distribution company Red Chillies Entertainment, along with actress and 1984 Miss India Juhi Chawla and her husband Jay Mehta via their own Mehta Group conglomerate. Since then, the Knight Riders have won two IPL championships (2012, 2014), and have recorded the third most total wins in the competition’s history. 

In 2015 Red Chillies and Mehta Group purchased Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel, rebranding to Trinbago Knight Riders following their 2015 championship season. Trinbago has gone on to win three more championships under the Knight Riders banner, all within the last four years. The Knight Riders empire, known to carry many of the same players across the two competitions, made history this past season as KKR signed TKR’s Ali Khan, the first USA cricketer to get his start with the IPL.

A big part of TKR’s success these past three seasons has been the stellar power play and yorker bowling of Khan, who nearly fell through the cracks on his way to the USA national men’s team. The Minor League/Major League Cricket system should help keep talented domestic players from the fringes of obscurity.

USA Cricket and TKR fast bowler Ali Khan made history when he joined KKR in the IPL in 2020.
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“A big part of the plan is to help develop cricket at the grass roots level and develop scouting and talent development plans,” KKR and Red Chillies Entertainment CEO Venky Mysore told Emerging Cricket. “This will definitely unearth talent similar to Ali Khan, who has been part of the Knight Riders family already.”

Along with the development of talent in the United States, cracking into the unequalled American pro sports fan base is a priority for Mysore and the Knight Riders brand. “Clearly the US is already a big consumer of cricket content, mainly through the diaspora. However, for T20 cricket to become a mainstream sport and for it to scale, it has to catch the imagination of the local American sports lovers at large. Given the involvement of several key people who are already entrenched in American sports and other significant businesses, we believe that over time T20 cricket will become very popular.”

The news continues an eventful time for USAC and MLC, having recently announced a new stadium in Dallas. MLC is planning franchises in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta, New York, and Chicago. The Dallas stadium, slated for renovations in 2021, checks off one of those, but it will be difficult to secure the remaining five in time for the 2022 launch. This would mean the MLC could initiate in three sites: Dallas, Ft Lauderdale, Florida, and Morrisville, North Carolina. This is a likely contingency plan confirmed by Mysore to ESPNcricinfo.com.

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Nate Hays
Nate Hays
Fielding All Rounder, played a lot of baseball. Born in Maryland, lives in North Carolina, not from a ‘cricketing nation'...yet!

2 COMMENTS

  1. Lots and lots of grandiose plans. But we’ve had plenty of these in American cricket. As it stands,
    all this points to the continuation of “American” cricket as nothing more than a gated South
    Asian community, alien to mainstream American society. To date, ACE has yet to show they can get a single mainstream American
    into the stands or to take up the game…and THAT, ultimately, is the ONLY thing that will matter.

  2. @tim, I just might be that “single mainstream American” you are talking about. I started watching cricket when I got a streaming tv service that had beIN Sports that had La Liga soccer so that I could watch Messi play soccer about 5 years ago. This tv service included Willow TV and I started watching highlights of cricket matches and that started my love for this game. I live about 2 hours away from Dallas and I have a daughter that live within 30 minutes of this new stadium. I plan to attend matches.
    I do agree that cricket in USA seems to be mostly a “gated South Asian community” and that is going to be the hardest hurdle to cross. And I do not think having just a “franchise” cricket tournament like the IPL or CPL will work long term. Something more inline with County Cricket in England that incorporate multi-day, one-day and T-20 formats within a league format will help Americans to better understand the game. We understand (American) Football Season, Baseball Season, Basketball Season, Hockey Season. We have a harder time with soccer due to it always being soccer season……. We need a Cricket Season not a 3 week Cricket tournament.

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