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News

MLC 2024 to begin on July 5, set for six-day clash with the Hundred

Twelve out of the 24 overseas players under contract in the Hundred could arrive late in the UK

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
07-May-2024
Kieron Pollard celebrates a wicket, MI New York vs Washington Freedom, MLC 2023, Morrisville, July 23, 2023

Kieron Pollard is part of the MI New York side in the MLC  •  Sportzpics

Half of the overseas players in the men's Hundred could arrive in the UK late this year after Major League Cricket (MLC) confirmed on Tuesday that the two leagues will overlap by six days in July.
Last year, the inaugural season of MLC ended two days before the start of the Hundred but the leagues will clash this year. The Hundred's group stage starts on July 23 while MLC will run until the final on July 28, with the knockout fixtures - which will feature four of the six franchises - starting July 24.
Twelve out of the 24 overseas players under contract in the men's Hundred have already been announced as signings or retentions in MLC and more could follow before the tournament starts on July 5. The vast majority of them will stay in the US until their respective franchises are eliminated.
ESPNcricinfo understands that Stephen Fleming is likely to buck the trend by prioritising the Hundred. Fleming, who is in India with Chennai Super Kings, coaches Texas Super Kings in MLC but his Hundred team, Southern Brave, have received assurances that he will arrive in the UK before their opening fixture on July 24. Fleming did not respond when contacted.
Depending on which MLC franchises reach the playoffs, some Hundred teams could be without two or even three overseas players for their opening fixture. Fleming's Brave, for example, could be missing Kieron Pollard (MI New York), Akeal Hosein (Washington Freedom) and Finn Allen (San Francisco Unicorns) for their first match.
Player wages in MLC were higher than in the men's Hundred last year. The top salary in MLC was around US$175,000 (£135,000 approx.) for a minimum of five games across two-and-a-half weeks; in the men's Hundred, the top salary was £125,000 (US$155,000 approx.) for a minimum of eight games across four weeks.
The men's Hundred is likely to be short on star power for the opening week, also clashing with the third England vs West Indies Test at Edgbaston which runs from July 26-30. Availability is much better in the women's Hundred, where the only relevant clash is a brief overlap with the Asia Cup.
MLC will start on July 5 - a day later than initially planned - and the 21-match group stage will run until July 23. Each team will play seven group fixtures. The four knockout fixtures have been scheduled for July 24 (Eliminator), 25 (Qualifier), 26 (Challenger) and 28 (final). As well as the Hundred, it will directly clash with the Lanka Premier League which is due to run July 1-21.
Like last year, two venues will be used: Grand Prairie Stadium near Dallas, Texas and Church Street Park in Morrisville, North Carolina. The ICC said earlier this year that MLC were evaluating the possibility of using the 'modular' stadium in Eisenhower Park, near New York - which will host eight T20 World Cup matches in June - but those plans have been shelved.
MLC has proved particularly attractive to Australian players this year, with Steven Smith, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell and Jake Fraser-McGurk all due to feature. Two MLC franchises have links with Australian states - Washington Freedom (New South Wales) and San Francisco Unicorns (Victorians) - while a Seattle Orcas squad recently toured Queensland.
A desire to attract the best overseas players in the world is among several reasons underpinning the ECB's plan to sell equity stakes in Hundred teams to private investors later this year. Richard Gould, the ECB's chief executive, said last month that there is a "strong consensus that we would like to see private investment come into the Hundred".
The ECB has been meeting counties regularly and hope they will agree on a direction of travel this week. Under their latest proposals, they would gift a 51% share in each Hundred team to its host county (or MCC, in the case of London Spirit) and would sell the other 49% itself by the end of the year, sharing the revenue generated across the English game.
"Who gets what within that 49%? That's where the conversation will be over the next couple of weeks," Stuart Cain, Warwickshire's chief executive, told BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra last week. "What's the best way to spread that money around the 18 counties - if you include the MCC, 19 - to try and create a more sustainable, vibrant foundation for the county system?"

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98