Following a successful national player registration process, USA Cricket and American Cricket Enterprises (ACE) today announced the inaugural Player Draft for Minor League Cricket (MiLC) will take place later this month in advance of the league’s scheduled launch in Spring 2021.
There has been significant interest since the Player Registration process commenced last month with over 2,000 individual cricketers registered and verified through the official Minor League Cricket Player Registration Portal. Following the August 12th deadline for registrations, all registered players will be considered for the inaugural Minor League Cricket Player Draft, which will take place on Saturday, August 15th, to select the squads for all 24 MiLC teams.
ACE and USA Cricket are continuing to explore opportunities to safely provide domestic cricketers and MiLC franchises the opportunity to play cricket in 2020. A series of Franchise Exhibition Matches are scheduled to begin on September 5th in multiple locations in coordination with local public health officials and with comprehensive COVID-19 safety protocols in place to ensure the safety and well-being of players, volunteers, and officials.
The Franchise Exhibition Matches will allow newly drafted players the opportunity to play a number of high-standard cricket matches this year, as well as allow Franchises to hone their squads and plans for the first full season of Minor League Cricket now slated to launch in Spring 2021. The matches in 2020 will also give all participating players a chance to participate within USA Cricket’s domestic cricket pathway, which for many will be for the first time. Players will be looking to stake their claim for positions in Minor League Cricket Franchises for the 2021 season, and also to capture the attention of the USA Cricket National Team selectors.
All Franchise Exhibition Matches in 2020 will be scheduled between the MiLC franchises within their respective region to minimize travel requirements. There will be no formal competition, league structure or trophy at stake in 2020. These matches will be held on weekend dates between September 5th and Mid-October, and will only go ahead in conjunction with all local, county, and state authorities’ guidelines.
At this stage, USA Cricket plans to utilize the window immediately after completion of the exhibition matches to stage the 2020 Zonal 50-Over trials and National Championships for men, women, and youth if and where it is safe to do so. With the domestic structure being so severely affected by the ongoing pandemic, and public health regulations continuing to cast doubt over exactly what can be achieved, USA Cricket continues to reschedule its plans in the continuing hope that it can shortly finalize realistic dates with appropriate, safe venues for some or all of these important domestic competitions during the remainder of 2020.
Sameer Mehta and Vijay Srinivasan of American Cricket Enterprises explained, “Given all of the challenges that 2020 has brought for the country, we are pleased to be able to still proceed with the inaugural Minor League Cricket Draft, and also be able to get some cricket played this year for our new franchises. With more than 2,000 players registered already and the Player Registration portal still open, it is clear that Minor League Cricket has captured the attention of the American cricketing community. The Player Draft on August 15th will be a watershed event in the development of professional cricket in the U.S. and it will be an important step for Minor League Cricket.
“We have also been overwhelmed with the scale of interest in Franchise ownership and would like to thank all of those who showed such engagement with us over recent weeks and months. We now have a full set of Minor League Cricket franchise owners and look forward to working closely with them to bring the tournament to life. We will share more details on the franchise owners in the coming weeks.”
“USA Cricket welcomes the news that the Minor League Cricket Player Draft will go ahead next week,” said USA Cricket Chief Executive Iain Higgins. “We have been continuing to work closely with the team at ACE over recent weeks to adapt as best we can to the constantly evolving consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The health and safety of all cricketers, volunteers, officials, and everyone in the USA Cricket community is our utmost priority, and at the forefront of all decisions that we make.
“This revised timeline allows USA Cricket to continue to pursue the objective of staging the 50-Over Zonal Trials and National Championships in 2020 for men, women and youth. As before, we continue to plan for all scenarios, and aim to integrate our activities closely with those of ACE and Minor League Cricket in order to provide the best possible playing opportunities for our domestic talent.”
A further announcement with full details of the draft and teams will be made next week. The Minor League Cricket Player Registration portal is still open here: https://www.majorleaguecricket.com/minorleaguecricket.