Jason Roy is set to become the first English cricketer to cut short a contract with the ECB in favour of signing on with the LA Knight Riders in the inaugural season of Major League Cricket.
Roy was dropped from England’s central contract list last year after falling out of favour from England’s T20 side in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup in Australia. The opening batter was downgraded to an incremental contract thought to be worth in the region of £60,000 per year. It is understood that his offer on the table from MLC is worth around £300,000 for two years’ worth of participation in the new American franchise league.
This year’s MLC is set to run from July 13-30, overlapping with Finals Day in the T20 Blast but none of The Hundred or any of England’s scheduled white-ball fixtures this summer. The ECB have released a statement saying that Roy’s decision to terminate his incremental contract will not adversely affect his prospects of selection for this year’s World Cup in India where England are defending champions.
While it is a landmark move that will undoubtedly not be the last of its kind, it is one that makes perfect sense for Roy to accept. The two-year deal offers a level of security that doesn’t really exist for players like Roy on the franchise circuit. Downturns in form can quickly jeopardise a player’s value; a two-year deal offers a degree of certainty that doesn’t currently exist for white-ball players without full central contracts. The knowledge of having a tournament confirmed in the diary more than a year in advance is also likely to give players like Roy more flexibility to pick and choose which other tournaments to play in. Roy played in four separate franchise competitions in the 2022/23 winter alone, alongside England tours of Australia, South Africa and Bangladesh.
In a statement following reports about his decision, Roy said: “Following a bit of unwanted speculation over the last 24 hours, I wanted to clarify that I am not and never will ‘walk away from England.’
“Representing my country continues to be my proudest moment as a professional cricketer. I hope to play for England for many more years, that remains my priority.
“I’ve had clear and supportive conversations with the ECB about participating in Major League Cricket. The ECB were happy with me to play in the competition as long as they didn’t have to pay me for the remainder of the contractual year.
“As a single format player with no central contract I wanted to take the opportunity to play this competition as there are currently no scheduling conflicts with England. It benefits me as an England player to play as much competitive cricket as possible.
“Just to be very clear, my priority is England Cricket, especially with a World Cup soon upon is. It is for me, and for any player, the greatest honour to receive a cap to play for their country.”
The ECB later released a statement of their own which concluded by saying: “The ECB wish to clarify that this decision will not affect Jason’s selection for England teams going forward. We have absolute confidence and faith that Jason is committed to England cricket.”