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Major League Cricket, explained, ahead of its inaugural U.S. season

The first cricket league in the USA begins now. Here’s what you need to know.

The United States will get its first taste of professional cricket on Thursday night with the launch of the inaugural season of Major League Cricket (MLC). Six teams will compete in T20, the quickest version of the game, with matches taking part across two sites with some serious star power on display for its first season.

If you’ve never watched cricket before, you’re curious about the sport, or just want to see what it’s all about then buckle in, because here’s everything you need to know in order be prepared for the first ball on Thursday night.

What is T20 cricket?

The “20” in T20 stands for the overs each side has to score runs. An over is six balls delivered by a single bowler in succession. At that time a new bowler takes over, bowls six balls, and the process continues.

Teams need to score as many runs as possible off the 180 balls as possible, and have 10 wickets (or outs) to make this happen.

Because of the need to score extremely quickly to build a big lead or chase the opponent’s total, T20 is traditionally where you see players swing for the fences and take the most risks while batting. There’s also innate strategy built into the batting order, when to use spin bowling as opposed to fast bowling, as well as balancing the risk/reward of taking shots that could rack up runs, but at the cost of giving up easy wickets.

Who are the teams in Major League Cricket and where are they playing?

  • Los Angeles Knight Riders
  • San Francisco Unicorns
  • MI New York
  • Seattle Orcas
  • Washington Freedom
  • Texas Super Kings

These teams will compete at two dedicated sites for the first season. A 12,000 seat cricket ground has been opened in Grand Prairie, Texas (a suburb of Dallas), with a 7,000 seat ground operating in Morrisville, North Carolina (part of the Raleigh-Durham area).

Who are the players to watch?

The inaugural season boasts the best players in the United States (many of whom even the most dedicated cricket fans haven’t heard of), alongside some surprisingly big names from international cricket. Of the international players entering the league we have:

  • Rashid Khan
  • Shadab Khan
  • Haris Rauf
  • Faf du Plessis
  • David Miller
  • Sunil Narine
  • Kieron Pollard
  • Andre Russell
  • Marcus Stoinis
  • Aaron Finch
  • Jason Roy
  • Trent Boult

At one point all of these players were some of the best T20 players in the world and all represented their countries at an international level.

How to watch

MLC has partnered with cricket streaming service WillowTV for broadcast rights in the United States. Internationally it can be watched in Australia (FOX), the Caribbean (SportsMax), New Zealand (Sky NZ), Pakistan (A Sports), South Africa (SuperSport) and the United Kingdom (BT Sport), and India (Viacom18).

The first match between the Texas Super Kings and Los Angeles Knight Riders will take place at 8:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 13.