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 last week that the 2024 season will start on July 4 and will conclude “by early August”, with fixtures due to be released early next year. The Blast starts on May 30, running concurrently with the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and the United States, and the group stages end on July 19.
In 2023, MLC lasted two-and-a-half weeks and slotted into the gap between the end of the Blast – Finals Day apart – and the start of the Hundred. This year, the dates do not align as neatly, and an expanded MLC season is likely to run into the first week of the Hundred, which is due to start in late July.
In theory, Notts could attempt to block Hales from playing in MLC by refusing to release him, but ESPNcricinfo understands that they would not try to do so. He has played for the club throughout his career and, in the event of a clash in his schedule in July, would then return for the knockout stages in September.
The top-paid players at MLC in 2023 earned US$175,000 (£140,000) to play a minimum of five games, salaries that even the wealthiest counties would struggle to compete with across the Blast’s seven-week group stage.
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. Holding on to any big names for the duration of the Blast will prove even harder, with the knockout stages due to be staged six weeks after the end of the group stage.