English players face potential absence from county T20 amid MLC and Blast conflict

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English players are considering missing up to half of the T20 Blast group stages in 2024 in order to feature in the second season of Major League Cricket (MLC) in the United States. MLC announced that the 2024 season will start on July 4 and conclude by early August. The Blast starts on May 30, running concurrently with the T20 World Cup, and the group stages end on July 19. Last year, the ECB did not permit players with central contracts to feature in MLC. Jason Roy was the only England player to feature in MLC’s inaugural season, representing Los Angeles Knight Riders (LAKR), arriving late after staying in the UK for T20 Blast Finals Day. An expanded MLC season is likely to run into the first week of the Hundred, which is due to start in late July. Players like Alex Hales, who is in the final stages of negotiations with Nottinghamshire, could miss up to six group games if they receive lucrative MLC offers. Top-paid players at MLC in 2023 earned US$175,000 (£140,000) to play a minimum of five games, a salary that even the wealthiest counties would struggle to compete with across the Blast’s seven-week group stage. Roy and Tom Curran are expected to play for LAKR again next summer. County directors of cricket are also worried that the Blast’s clash with the T20 World Cup will make it difficult to secure overseas players for the competition next year until squads have been named, and holding on to big names for the duration of the Blast will be even harder, with the knockout stages due to be staged six weeks after the end of the group stage.

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