The championship will begin on July 31, with more than 200 Twenty20 games scheduled in 21 cities. 27 teams will compete for $250,000 in prize money, the largest purse in American cricket.
The Toyota Minor League Cricket Championship 2021 will feature ten weekends of competitive cricket, culminating in a finals weekend on October 2-3.
“We’re honored to be part of the first-ever Minor League Cricket season and to help support the growth of the sport as it embarks on its most extensive competition to ever take place in the United States,” said Matt Ozawa, manager, asset management and activation, Toyota Motor North America at the launch. “We look forward to joining the league, its athletes, cricket lovers and Toyota fans across the country for a historic inaugural championship season.”
Justin Geale, Tournament Director for Major League Cricket, said that cricket is on an incredible growth trajectory domestically in America and expressed his delight in announcing a partnership with the global automaker giant.
“We are delighted to partner with Toyota, a global brand committed to support the growth of American cricket, a sport loved by millions of supporters in the United States. The sport is on an incredible growth trajectory domestically as we build towards the launch of Major League Cricket and adding both Toyota and SLING TV as partners in Minor League Cricket shows there has never been a more promising future for cricket in this country,” said Geale.
The online streaming provider Sling TV believes that they are primed to introduce the game of cricket to the American audiences.
“SLING TV is thrilled to partner with Minor League Cricket and help grow the game’s national audience. Because SLING TV offers streaming services for both American and international channels, we are primed to not only introduce American cricket to our existing cricket fan base but also to American audiences,” Liz Riemersma, Vice-President – International for SLING TV, said.
Team rosters have already been announced for the 27 MiLC teams. Each team features a selection of marquee players, priority domestic players, and a required number of U21 and U19 players.
The primary aim of the tournament is to give a platform and opportunity for the best cricketers in America to showcase their abilities at a national level and build cricket in communities across the country.
“The scale and level of competition that Minor League Cricket will launch with this summer will help build the pathway to develop young, talented cricketers across the nation into future national team stars. Minor League Cricket, with the support of Toyota and SLING TV, provides a tremendous step forward towards achieving the vision of making cricket a mainstream sport in the United States outlined in USA Cricket’s Foundational Plan,” said USA Cricket CEO Iain Higgins.
File Pic: Corey Anderson (Getty Images)
We are creating a legacy here: Corey Anderson
Former New Zealand cricketer Corey Anderson feels that a legacy is being created with the launch of the inaugural Minor League Cricket championship.
“The level of cricket will be high. In last year’s exhibition games, I saw lots of talent. I will be sharing my experience on and off the field with young local players. We are creating a legacy here,” Anderson said as he joined Pakistan cricketer Sami Aslam and others in the online launch of the league.
“I have seen the youth in camps, the talent is there and they will get a chance to showcase that. It’s an opportunity to strengthen American cricket and make the sport popular here in the USA. It will take time, but can be sped up with the talent we have and the exposure the tournaments will provide,” Anderson, who has represented the Blackcaps in 13 Tests, 49 ODIs and 31 T20Is, added.
Pakistan cricketer Sami Aslam, who has played 13 Tests and 4 ODIs for the national side, is excited for the local cricketers.
“Great enthusiasm in players, especially in local players. This league will raise the bar for the USA national team too. The players here can learn a lot from the international players as every team has 3-4 of them,” Aslam said.
The USA national team captain, Saurabh Netravalkar is also excited to be part of the league and said that the American cricket community was waiting for such a tournament.
“Cricket community is waiting for such a tournament. Local players will get a chance to promote themselves to the major league and to the national team. Youngsters can learn and improve themselves. Great time and exciting to be part of it,” Saurabh said. “World-class cricketers will be sharing time with local players. They will be extremely benefitted. We national players can also learn from them and from each other and raise the bar.”
Minor League Cricket and its 27 team owners have invested over 4,000,000 US dollars for the staging of the tournament, which will be the most extensive in the history of American cricket.