Jason Roy closes on exit from central England contract to play in the United States | Twenty20
Jason Roy is set to become the first current England international to sign up for Major League Cricket’s first season in the United States after being offered a two-year contract by the Los Angeles Knight Riders. The 32-year-old is considering negotiating his release from the central contract he has with the England and Wales Cricket Board to free himself up to spend the last half of July in America, before returning to play for Oval Invincibles in the Hundred.
The Los Angeles Knight Riders share ownership with the Kolkata Knight Riders, the Indian Premier League franchise Roy has played for this season. If the move goes ahead, he could play as many games for their various teams this year as he does for Surrey, which would be a big step on the much-discussed path to full-year franchise deals.
His county, however, expect to retain their primary allegiance, and Roy would play for them throughout their T20 Blast campaign. The MLC season begins on July 13, two days before the semi-finals and final of this competition are played in Edgbaston, and he would be forced to delay his departure if his team qualified for these games. The MLC ends on July 30, in time for players to return for the start of the Hundred two days later.
No English player can play in a foreign league without being issued a no-objection certificate by the ECB, and Roy was reportedly told he had to cancel his central contract before the NOC was granted. He is not the only player on such an ECB contract to have been contacted by the MLC: David Willey refused to be approached, not wanting to compromise his potential involvement in the 50+ World Cup which begins in October, while Reece Topley was also knocked out but is recovering from the dislocated shoulder that ruled him out of the IPL. Having missed much of last year due to various injuries, Topley is keen to play as much cricket as possible for teams that want to, but will need to prove his fitness before making any new commitments.
Roy has become a key player for England’s white ball teams since making his T20 debut in 2014 and was part of the team that won the 50+ World Cup in 2019. But after a miserable summer the year last he was dropped from the T20 squad. for the World Cup in Australia, which England also won, and downgraded from a full central contract to an incremental contract. Such offers are worth around £70,000 and are aimed at “players who can play for England on a less predictable basis”, and therefore considerably less lucrative than the rumored £300,000 Roy has been offered for five weeks off. work, spread over two years, in the United States.
None of those with full central contracts with the ECB are expected to play in the MLC this year – the competition also comes up against the last two Ashes Tests – and although several high-level white ball specialists from other countries have already signed up, including Quinton de Kock, Glenn Phillips and Wanindu Hasaranga, many more will wait to see if the first season is a success before deciding to get involved. Although the inaugural competition lasts just 17 days and comes up against just one day of senior white-ball cricket in England, it is set to run until August from 2024, forcing players to choose between it and the Hundred.