Harmeet Singh made history on Sunday night in Houston by being named the first pick of the Major League Cricket (MLC) draft when the six MLC franchises converged at Space Center Houston to make their domestic picks and announced big international signings as the historic 2023 season prepares to take flight. Singh was selected by the Seattle Orcas, who unveiled their name and logo earlier this week.
Singh, a 30-year-old all-rounder who bowls left-arm off spin, has played in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and was on the India U-19 squad that won the 2012 World Cup, along with leading the Seattle Thunderbolts to the 2022 Minor League Cricket championship.
“I’m really excited to be here,” Singh said. “And also nervous at the same time. I played in Seattle in the Minor League. Now Major League Cricket. It can’t get better for me.”
The Seattle Orcas, Washington Freedom, MI New York, San Francisco Unicorns, Los Angeles Knight Riders and Texas (team name still to be announced) each made nine picks with some teams announcing major international signings during the two-hour event.
The major signings: Former Australia one-day international captain Aaron Finch and Australia all-rounder Marcus Stoinis will join San Francisco, South Africa fast bowler Anrich Nortje and Sri Lanka legbreak bowler Wanindu Hasaranga will play for Washington and former South Africa captain and wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock as well as hard-hitting Australian all-arounder Mitchell Marsh signed for Seattle.
The domestic draft Sunday night consisted of nine rounds of selections from players who are in the domestic player pool, including 16 past or present USA National Team players.
Washington selected wicketkeeper Andries Gous with the second pick. Gous recently played in Abu Dhabi’s T10 league.
MI New York selected USA international batter Steven Taylor with the third pick, San Francisco selected former New Zealand international and batsman Corey Anderson fourth, Los Angeles Knight Riders selected star USA Cricket bowler Ali Khan and Texas picked fast bowler Rusty Theron, who has played for multiple IPL teams, with its first pick in the first round.
Several other big names were selected in the Major League Cricket draft: Unmukt Chand, who captained the India U-19 team to the 2012 World Cup, joined Los Angeles in the second round; Liam Plunkett, a star bowler for the England team that won the 2019 World Cup, joins San Francisco, and former Pakistan international Hammed Azam was taken by MI New York.
In addition to USA capped players Theron, Khan and Taylor selected in the first round, a further 13 national team players were amongst the draft selections. Current USA captain Monank Patel was drafted by MI New York, along with Nosthush Kenjige, Shayan Jahangir, Kyle Phillip and Saideep Ganesh.
The Seattle Orcas selected national teamers Aaron Jones and Cameron Gannon, while Jaskaran Malhotra and 20-year-old Ali Sheikh are headed to the Los Angeles Knight Riders. The Washington Freedom picked up past USA captain Saurabh Netravalkar and Cameron Stevenson is headed to Texas along with teenager Sai Mukkamalla. Fellow teenager Sanjay Krishnamurthi stays close to his home in the Bay Area, drafted by the San Francisco Unicorns.
The final ninth round — dedicated to Under-23 selections — also saw more young domestic talent offered the opportunity to play alongside some of the best players in the world this summer, with Bhaskar Yadram (LA), Matthew Tromp (Seattle) and Akhilesh Bodugum (Washington) all picked up.
The 2023 MLC season starts July 13 in a brand-new cricket-specific venue – Grand Prairie Stadium – in Grand Prairie, Texas. Teams will play the explosive Twenty20 (T20) format of the game, with matches typically lasting three hours. The regular season will consist of five games, with each team playing each other once, followed by a playoff round and the championship on July 30.
Teams will announce more big-name international signings as they become official, and each squad has a chance to pick another domestic player in early July based on performances in the Minor League Cricket season.