The Knight Riders Group will play “a very broad role” in the USA-based Major League Cricket (MLC), the latest attempt to launch a franchise-led T20 tournament that is expected to kick off in 2022. That brings to three the number of leagues in which the Knight Riders Group have a team, after the IPL and CPL, and they will hold a “significant” stake in the tournament.
The investment in the MLC by the Knight Riders group, which is owned by Bollywood actors Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla along with her husband Jay Mehta, will be strategic and see them playing the role of “consultant” to help USA Cricket run the six-team T20 league.
The league will be unlike a number of others at least in one way: the six (to start with) franchises will own a part of it. “In the IPL or the CPL, you own a franchise, and that’s all you own and operate”, whereas in the case of the MLC, “you have a stake in the league”, Venky Mysore, CEO and managing director of the Knight Riders, said.
The Knight Riders Group, which owns Kolkata Knight Riders and the Trinbago Knight Riders, was invited by American Cricket Enterprises (ACE), USA Cricket’s partner in developing a professional T20 league in America. The result is what both ACE and Mysore have called “a long-term investment in American cricket”.
“When they invited us, we said we want to take a deep dive into this, and not just have a short-term outlook,” Mysore told ESPNcricinfo. “So they see us as a consultant in many ways, apart from being a big part of the league. They want us to play a very broad role, to help and assist them with all aspects of cricket in the US.
“USA Cricket are looking at a bigger national cricket set-up, academies, develop talent, and all that is complementary to what the T20 league will do as well. In addition, we will be working hard to build infrastructure there, six world-class stadiums in the next few years.
“It will be like a public-private partnership where you have conversations with the city council and they are used to doing it with other sports when it comes to, say, giving you land, or long-term financing arrangements.
“Eventually their ambition is to host international competitions, including, potentially, the World Cup. So this could be on the agenda. USA has a strong sports culture. It’s also the No. 1 media market. Cricket is the second-most-watched sport in the world, so you combine it all, it’s got all the ingredients of a very successful product.”
Only last week, Greg Barclay, the new ICC chairman, indicated that the USA would likely be one of the places cricket will target in its push for further growth. He had also hinted at the possibility of wresting global events away from India, England and Australia, and that the USA would be “the logical place to start”.
If and when it is launched, having been postponed by a year already due to the Covid-19 outbreak, MLC will be the first professional T20 league in America. It is already the latest in a string of attempted professional T20 league ventures in America since the start of the millennium.
ProCricket was launched with much fanfare in 2005 and was headlined by numerous former internationals including Mervyn Dillon, Robin Singh and Colin Miller, but it folded operations after just one season. A planned venture by independent New York businessman Jay Mir called American Premier League was targeted for 2008 but never launched.
The USA Cricket Association then signed an agreement in 2010 with New Zealand Cricket, Neil Maxwell’s Insite and Podar Enterprises to start a franchise league by the year 2012 but various administrative issues resulted in another failed launch. USACA later signed a $70 million agreement in 2016 with former St Lucia Zouks owner Jay Pandya, once again aimed at launching a T20 league. However, USACA was under ICC suspension at the time, throwing the validity of the Pandya agreement into doubt and plans fizzled out a year later when USACA was formally expelled by the ICC.
Pandya’s “American Cricket Premier League” subsequently filed a lawsuit in May 2019 attempting to block American Cricket Enterprises from pursuing a T20 league in partnership with USA Cricket, but the suit was withdrawn a year later.
“What you are looking at here, is that everyone is aligned,” Mysore said. “You have a stake in the league, and the decisions that are made have a bearing on you and the league. You are also looking out for the health of the tournament. Here, we will be party to the decision-making, which is important.
“Normally, the finances flow into the entity that owns the league, whereas here, the stakeholders get a large chunk of it. To that extent, you gain or lose based on the kind of decisions that are made.”
From the point of view of the Knight Riders Group, who had also bought a team in the aborted South African Global T20 League – the Cape Town franchise – the aim has been to become a round-the-year entity, something they have made clear for some time now.
“Lots of people say we are the only global brand in T20 cricket, and we take a lot of pride in that,” Mysore said. “That was always our vision. The IPL is for two months, and maybe a month leading up to that, but what do you do to keep your brand alive the rest of the year.
“The vision is to build the business at a global level, and own two, three, four, five franchises around the world, and build them on the mother brand of Knight Riders, and use a common template and model about how you operationalise the business, how you do your branding, your sponsorship deals, your merchandising deals, etc.”
MLC is expected to be a city-based competition, but while developing six stadia is a big part of the plan, it is likely to start with three venues, according to Mysore: Fort Lauderdale, which has hosted international cricket in the past; a Dallas-based baseball ground that will be repurposed; and one in Morrisville, North Carolina.
“They were very encouraged that UAE was able to hold an eight-team event in three cities, and this is a six-team event,” Mysore said. “In five years, they might think about expanding it. That’s the broad thought process.”
There is talk of at least some prominent names from Test-playing countries being on the radar of MLC, as and when the time for such a thing comes up, but the player-recruitment process will be the same as elsewhere to start with: a draft or an auction, with players from around the world listed. “Then, over time, when the scouting and grassroots programmes kick in, we are hoping more and more local players get involved,” Mysore said.
BBL 2020-21 – James Faulkner out of the BBL with hamstring injury
Faulkner re-aggravated the hamstring injury that he suffered on December 27 and won’t play again in the BBL
Hobart Hurricanes seamer James Faulkner has been ruled out of the remainder of the BBL after re-injuring his hamstring at training on Sunday.
Faulkner had not played since he limped off the Gabba four balls into his second over in the Hurricanes’ loss to the Brisbane Heat on December 27.
He was on track to return to the Hurricanes side but re-aggravated his hamstring at training ahead of the clash with Sydney Thunder on Monday in Canberra.
Faulkner has left the BBL hub and travelled home to Hobart to have scans and begin treatment.
The Hurricanes currently sit seventh but only four points separate the teams between there and second position.
Recent Match Report – Australia vs India 4th Test 2020
Updates, analysis and colour from the fifth day of the fourth Test
Welcome to our live report of the fifth day of the Australia-India Test from Brisbane. Join us for updates, analysis and colour. You can find our traditional ball-by-ball commentary here
*Most recent entry will appear at the top, please refresh your page for the latest updates. All times are local.
9.37am: On this day
Thirteen years ago, Irfan Pathan was named Man of the Match as India beat Australia in Perth. Things weren’t quite on par the way they are now, but this is the kind of thing that’d satisfy the optimistic Indian fan. H/T to Gaurav Sundararaman for spotting this.
We head into the last day of this sensational series with the opportunity for plenty of drama. India need 324 to win the series, Australia need 10 wickets. In both their paths is a glum forecast, but only one team really NEEDS to win. And that is Australia. A draw doesn’t do too much harm to India in terms of WTC prospects – considering they have a big home series coming – and they would get to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. For Australia, it’s not that simple on either of those fronts. But perhaps the one thing they have going for them is that it is a lot easier to force a result with the ball rather than with the bat on this pitch and in these conditions. This is the piece with all the WTC scenarios for the two teams.
And here is some info about the weather forecast for today. We are scheduled for 98 overs on paper.
Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
As it happened – Australia vs India, 4th Test, Brisbane, 4th day
Welcome to our live report of the third day of the Australia-India Test from Brisbane. Join us for updates, analysis and colour. You can find our traditional ball-by-ball commentary here
It’s still raining quite heavily, and the umpires have indicated that there will be no more play today. We will hopefully get 98 overs tomorrow, starting 9.30am local time. Do join us nice and early for that, and let’s hope this enthralling series doesn’t end on a damp note.
4.37pm: Here comes the rain
Australia got to bowl just 1.5 overs before having to go off the field again. India are 4 for 0. The rain isn’t too heavy yet, but it’s really gloomy and overcast, and the floodlights are on at full intensity as the covers come on.
Cricket is probably the only thing that can get Tamil Nadu Weatherman to tweet the Brisbane weather radar.
4.20pm: India need 328 to win
Mohammed Siraj ends with a richly deserved five-for. Australia is such a difficult place for a visiting debutant to come to, and he’s come here and looked so impressive, especially today while leading this incredibly inexperienced attack. He’s hit that awkward length consistently, got the ball to move off the seam, and exploited the uncertain bounce very well too. The fifth wicket is of Josh Hazlewood, who makes room and steers a short ball down the throat of third man.
Siraj now has 13 wickets in this series, at 29.53. He’s gone past Ashwin to finish as India’s leading wicket-taker.
India will have to negotiate a possible 24 overs today, and, of course, all of tomorrow, weather permitting.
3.57pm: Lead passes 300
And Nathan Lyon celebrates by hooking Siraj for six.
Then he’s out in the next over, slapping Thakur straight to Agarwal at extra-cover. Now both Siraj and Thakur have four each.
Interesting point from Dan Brettig on why Australia may be delaying their declaration, or, at the rate they’re losing wickets, not declaring at all.
3.47pm: Smack on the elbow
Siraj hits a crack close to off stump, just outside off, and gets a shortish ball to jag awkwardly into Cummins and hit him on his unprotected bowling arm. The lead inches towards 300, but Australia are really risking losing one of their bowlers by continuing to bat here.
3.37pm: Siraj bags four-for
Mitchell Starc chips a slower offcutter to mid-off, and Australia are 247 for 8, effectively 280 for 8. No sign of a declaration yet.
In the previous over, Pat Cummins ducked into a Shardul Thakur bouncer that didn’t bounce as high as expected, and the ball grazed the back of his helmet. He had only the most perfunctory-looking concussion test after that, and didn’t look to have been affected in any way, but should Australia keep their bowlers out there and risk them getting injured on this pitch?
3.20pm: The covers are coming off
And play will resume at 3.30pm. If the rain stays away, we’ll only lose one over today.
2.32pm: Early tea
It’s begun drizzling fairly heavily at the Gabba, and the umpires have called the players off the field. Australia are 243 for 7, and they lead by 276. How long this rain break lasts will probably determine how long they continue batting, if at all.
2.24pm: Australia stretch lead to 275
As soon as I put that up, Shardul Thakur bowls an effort ball and gets Tim Paine to top-edge a hook. Thin edge, and Rishabh Pant takes a sharp catch over his head. No sign of a declaration yet, as Mitchell Starc walks out to join Pat Cummins.
2.06pm: Thakur sends back Green
Thakur has bowled beautifully in this innings, and he gets his second with a classic Gabba dismissal. Good-length ball in the corridor, a hint of movement away, and Green is caught on the crease while defending, edges and Rohit takes a chest-high catch at second slip. Australia are 227 for 6, their lead now 260.
1.32pm: Uncertain bounce gets Smith
A proper lifter on a tight, fourth-stump line, and Siraj gets Smith caught at gully, off the glove. The third umpire came in to check whether Smith’s glove was off the handle when the ball hit it, but it wasn’t. He goes for 55, and Australia are 196 for 5, leading by 229.
If the pitch keeps playing like this, Australia might already have enough of a lead.
At the other end, meanwhile, Cameron Green is batting on 20 off 73. He’s looked pretty comfortable out there, but he seems to have batted himself into a bit of a rut, with his technique looking a little mechanical at the moment. I’d say he’s batting more like an allrounder than a batsman at this stage of his career, by which I mean he’s a bit block-or-bash without the in-between tempos.
Steven Smith gets there in just 67 balls. He’s looked to score at every opportunity today, and other than that dropped chance off Sundar – and one moment when he ran a quick single and seemed to feel a twinge in his hip – has looked utterly at ease. His footwork down the pitch against Sundar has been a particular highlight so far. Australia are now 185 for 4, and they lead by 218.
Yikes. Siraj comes back on to bowl the over after Smith reaches his fifty, and spills a caught-and-bowled off Green. Reflex catch, though, it was punched firmly back at him, and he had to stick his arms out to his right, against the direction of his follow-through.
1.10pm: Lead passes 200
Smith and Green are beginning to look quite comfortable out in the middle now, as their control percentages of 85 and 88 would suggest. India have bowled okay since lunch, but they haven’t done a whole lot to trouble the batsmen. Just as I type that, though, a ball from Natarajan creeps through at ankle height, beats Green, and just misses off stump. Then two of his next three balls, all from around the wicket, climb uncomfortably from a length and hit Green on the thigh pad and the box.
And in the next over, Smith jumps out and looks to hit Washington Sundar for six. There’s a long-on in place, and he initially runs a few yards in off the rope, which seems a misjudgment from the fielder, Siraj. He backtracks and moves to his left and reaches above his head after Smith miscues, and he gets both hands to the ball but spills the catch. It’s quite noticeable that Smith has tried to attack Sundar at every opportunity. He was getting a few to turn quite sharply in the morning, so maybe it’s an effort to put him off his lengths, or maybe he just thinks he can hit him for quick runs.
Australia are 149 for 4, and they lead by 182. Steven Smith and Cameron Green have added 26 in 10 overs so far, and the ball has continued to do something when pitched in good areas. India will be quite pleased with how that session went after Australia’s openers had threatened to take the game away, but they’ll have to bat fourth, and just for that you’d think Australia are in front right now. I would think even 250 will be hard to chase here, and Australia could set a lot more if that man Smith stays at the crease long enough. Ominous signs: he’s already moved to 28 off 38.
11.50am: Natarajan vs Green
Cameron Green, like a certain other Australia allrounder of recent vintage, is an lbw candidate, with a front-and-across movement that leaves his front leg planted firmly in line with the stumps. It often means his pad is in the way of his bat coming down straight against the incoming delivery, and Natarajan tried hitting that pad right through the first evening, bowling full from left-arm around. Now, from the same angle, he has an lbw appeal turned down, and India lose a review with ball-tracking returning umpire’s call on impact and suggesting the ball would have bounced over the stumps. It did swing in, though. India, however, will know it’s going to be hard to give Green out given he’s batting well outside his crease and getting a front-foot stride in, and even if he’s struck in line he’s usually struck a long way down the pitch. Plus he’s six feet and 396 inches tall.
India have bowled well since Siraj’s two-wicket over, by the way, and kept things tight. Navdeep Saini has also come on and bowled with discipline, though he’s well off his usual pace, hovering in the high 120s for most part.
11.11am: Siraj joins the party
He’s bowled well in this game without too much success, but now Mohammed Siraj gets Labuschagne with a peach after coming on for a new spell. Angling into the corridor, just back of a length, making the batsman play, and getting it to straighten and take the edge to second slip. Important breakthrough, because Labuschagne was counterattacking dangerously till then, using his feet brilliantly against Sundar in both directions to try and put the offspinner off his lengths. He’s out for 25 off 22, and Australia are 123 for 3. They’re 156 ahead now.
Two balls later it’s 123 for 4, as Rishabh Pant dives to his right to snaffle Matthew Wade, who’s out strangling the ball down the leg side. Well, well.
10.50am: Sundar gets Warner
Excellent delivery, the one that goes with the angle from around the wicket, Kryptonite for left-handers in the DRS era. This one would have been given out even in the pre-DRS era, because David Warner didn’t get a stride forward at all, and was struck on the back leg, just inside the line of the stumps. He was trudging off disconsolately before deciding to review at the last moment; he needn’t have bothered. Natural variation has done the trick for Sundar again, and Australia are 91 for 2 with two new batsmen at the crease. Those two are Marnus Labuschagne and Steven Smith, and if India can get rid of either of them quickly…
10.42am: Thakur breaks through
It’s been a good spell, and Thakur has struck just as the first hour was about to end, getting Harris to glove a sharp bouncer to the keeper. He was looking to get under it, but didn’t manage to drop his hands out of the way in time. Australia are 89 for 1, and lead by 122.
10.35am: The weather
That’s Google searches for those terms over the last seven days. My own search tells me there’s a 92% chance of rain starting around 3pm today.
10.25am: The pitch
The ball has done a lot over the last few overs, with Shardul Thakur beating the left-handers’ bat frequently. He’s bowling from over the wicket, pitching within the line of the stumps, thus forcing the batsmen to play, and getting the ball to jag away from them appreciably. He was wayward in the first innings; today he’s bowled with control and looked incisive, hitting the high 130s consistently. At the other end, Washington Sundar has also found a good amount of turn. While all this will enthuse India, Australia are still without loss, and their bowlers will like what they’re seeing too. It’s 81 for 0.
10.00am: Australia race away
A couple of expensive overs from India, and Australia are suddenly 94 ahead with all ten wickets in the bank. Both new-ball bowlers have strayed in line and length, dropping short and wide and straying on the pads, and Marcus Harris has hit three fours in two overs. He’s even driving balls on the up through the covers now, and rapidly catching up with his opening partner both in terms of score and strike rate. Natarajan, who conceded 14 in the 12th over, has now given way to Shardul Thakur. Navdeep Saini is on the field, by the way, which is hugely encouraging news for India.
9.49am: It’s all happening at the Gabba
So far it’s been a morning to summon up Bill Lawry’s classic line. Mohammed Siraj has beaten David Warner a couple of times with seam movement from just short of a length, and got him to edge a similar delivery just beyond Rohit Sharma’s reach at second slip. T Natarajan has found Marcus Harris’ edge at the other end, only for the ball to fall short of the cordon. When the bowlers have erred slightly on the full side, both batsmen have picked up boundaries with sweetly timed straight drives. Australia are 39 for 0 in 11 overs.
9.15am: The fairytale of Sundar and Natarajan
That’s Sidharth Monga on the common sense running through a partnership that was in every other way the product of schoolboy cricketing dreams. We also have Deivarayan Muthu speaking to Washington Sundar’s sister – who’s also a cricketer – and his coach and delving into his early years; if you were surprised by his batting display yesterday, you really shouldn’t have been.
Looking at it from the Australian perspective, Dan Brettig suggests the Sundar-Thakur stand told of a bowling attack that showed the physical and mental fatigue of playing all four Tests, in a deviation from the rotation policy adopted during the 2019 Ashes.
9.00am: Clear weather… for the moment
Australia are 54 ahead at the Gabba, with two full days left to play and all ten wickets in hand. Ordinarily that would mean they’re in the driver’s seat, but we may not get two full days of play given the rough weather that’s expected in Brisbane today and tomorrow. The news for now, though, is that it’s sunny, so we should start on time, which is 9.30am local time.
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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