Currently, there are two major leagues in the world of cricket: the Major League Cricket (MLC) and the Indian Premier League (IPL). In addition to these two, the ICC member body for the United States, USA Cricket, also has a minor league called the Invicta Cricket League (ICL).
Major League Cricket (MLC)
Despite its relatively small size, Major League Cricket (MLC) is considered the first step towards building a United States cricket movement. Its goal is to attract the world’s best cricketing talent to the U.S. and stage world-class Twenty20 cricket for American fans.
The MLC is being co-founded by the principals of The Times of India Group, which is the largest media conglomerate in India. It is also being backed by prominent business leaders and investors, including Ross Perot Jr., the son of former US presidential candidate Ross Perot Sr.
The first edition of Major League Cricket will feature 15 league matches across six teams, each playing in a one-round robin format. A championship final will be played on July 30, 2023. The inaugural season will be a men’s-only competition. The MLC will begin in Texas, then move on to California, New York, Washington DC, and San Francisco.
Indian Premier League (IPL)
Founded in 2008, the Indian Premier League (IPL) is a professional Twenty20 cricket championship in India. The league is held annually, with each team representing one of seven Indian cities.
IPL is the most popular cricket league in the world, generating 60% of global cricket revenues. The tournament has a large fan base and is a popular entertainment event in India. The league has earned a brand value of over US$ 5 billion in the last two seasons.
The IPL was created to promote the country’s sporting offerings and attract a new generation of sports fans. It was also launched with the intention of boosting tourism in India.
The league is administered by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The inaugural season was watched by 200 million viewers across TV and digital platforms, and was followed by an increase in demand for IPL. IPL has since expanded to ten teams.
Invicta Cricket League (ICL)
Founded in March 2010, the Invicta Cricket League (ICL) is a ten team, two season Twenty20 competition that plays out from April to July. ICL has the honour of being the first sporting league within the Invicta empire. The league is made up of a consortium of sporting clubs and associations, including the IPL, the FCC (Football Club of India), and the CCC (Cricket Club of Canada). The ICL reportedly rakes in over a billion dollars in annual revenues. The ICL has also managed to score a major coup in the form of a multi-million dollar sponsorship deal with Indian Railways. The organisation is a good bet to do the same with upcoming mega-league leagues Indian Super League (ISL) and IPL India. Having a major league league in the country is a boon for aspiring cricketers, but it comes at a cost.
ICC member body for the United States, USA Cricket
Founded in 1965, the United States of America Cricket Association (USACA) was the national governing body of cricket in the US. However, the US was expelled from the ICC in June 2017.
The ICC expressed concerns about USACA’s governance, and withdrew its financial support. It also expressed concern over the organization’s reputation.
In response to these concerns, ICC President Alan Isaac sent a letter to USACA president Gladstone Dainty, asking for updated information on the membership of the governing body. The membership submitted a certified constitution that contained slight changes to ICC-approved bylaws. The constitution allowed USACA to open up voting membership to clubs and youth academies. It also introduced individual and organizational membership.
In January 2019, ICC approved the application of the USA to become an Associate Member of the ICC. This will allow the country to play T20Is and ODIs. The ICC will also provide funding to help develop the game.
T20 leagues are more of a cash grab than legitimate competition
Despite its popularity, Twenty20 cricket leagues are more of a money-spinner than a legitimate competition. T20 leagues compete for broadcasters’ cash, a trend that is expected to continue.
But a T20 league is not a license to print money. The majority of domestic T20 teams are still losing money. Those that are winning are generating revenue from a captive audience.
However, the biggest question remains: is there a market for all the T20 leagues? Not everyone is convinced. In fact, a senior figure in cricket broadcasting recently proclaimed the existence of so many T20 leagues as “absolutely a bubble.”
As with most sporting events, the majority of revenue comes from the home TV market. However, T20 league owners aren’t naturally driven by lifelong fans. They are more interested in the commercial side of things, which is a good thing.