Sydney Sixers skipper Moises Henriques has added to a growing Australian Major League Cricket influx after becoming the latest Big Bash star to sign on for the inaugural edition of the United States T20 tournament.
Henriques will captain the Washington Freedom franchise, who have a teamed up with Cricket NSW (CNSW) to run their high performance department.
The 36-year-old – who led the Sixers to back-to-back titles in 2019-20 and 2020-21 – could yet be joined by two more of his KFC BBL teammates with opening batter Josh Philippe and fast bowler Ben Dwarshuis also linked to the Washington franchise for the July tournament.
Australia’s premier white-ball spinner Adam Zampa is also set to join the Kolkata Knight Riders owned franchise – Los Angeles Knight Riders – while Matthew Wade is another to have signed with an MLC club.
Zampa and Wade have both spent the past two months at the Indian Premier League, with the leg-spinner claiming eight wickets in six matches for Rajasthan Royals, while the Tasmanian wicketkeeper-batter hasn’t featured for Gujarat Titans with former India gloveman Wriddhiman Saha keeping him out of the defending champions’ side.
There was also understood to be lots of interest in superstar allrounder Glenn Maxwell, but the Victorian is unlikely to play in the MLC due to his T20 Blast and Hundred commitments with Warwickshire and London Spirit respectively.
Henriques joins former Aussie T20 skipper Aaron Finch and Marcus Stoinis in signing deals as overseas players for the tournament, with the World Cup-winning duo to join San Francisco Unicorns who have a high performance partnership with Cricket Victoria.
Cameron Gannon (Seattle Orcas), Cameron Stevenson (Texas Super Kings) and Brody Couch (San Francisco Unicorns) were also drafted as American domestic players due to their family heritage.
Meanwhile, Mitch Marsh’s call up to Australia’s Test squad for the World Test Championship Final and Ashes has curtailed his plans to play in the MLC, with the WA allrounder replaced by the likes of Sri Lanka’s Dasun Shanaka and Zimbabwe’s Sikandar Raza at the Seattle Orcas.
Washington have announced the most overseas signings of the six MLC franchises with Henriques joining South African pair Anrich Nortje and Marco Jansen, Kiwis Glenn Phillips and Adam Milne, and Sri Lankan spinner Wanindu Hasaranga at the Freedom.
Each team can sign up to nine overseas players to their roster alongside their 10 local players – which includes the nine picked at the inaugural MLC domestic draft on March 19 and one Minor League Cricket wildcard selection.
Most of the tournament’s 19 games will take place across 18 days at the league’s 7200-seat purpose-built Grand Prairie Stadium near Dallas from July 13-30 where each team will be able to pick up to six foreign players in their XIs.
CNSW Head of Male Elite Cricket Michael Klinger – who has been tasked with heading the Washington Freedom’s high performance program – told cricket.com.au he was “pleasantly surprised” with the quality of players in the US.
“The talent is there, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.
“There’s a lot of ex-players from the subcontinent who’ve played international cricket or been part of IPL franchises or PSL (Pakistan Super League) franchises.
“There were players who had been in first-class systems in the subcontinent, first-class systems in South Africa who left for different reasons. So there was definitely a positive feel about the quality that was there and that they’d be able to match it against some of our high quality overseas players as well.”
Other international stars to signs deals for the tournament include South Africans Quinten de Kock and Wayne Parnell (both Seattle Orcas), Lungi Ngidi (San Francisco) and England ODI World Cup winner Jason Roy who has been linked with the Los Angeles Knight Riders.
Former New Zealand international Corey Anderson and Roy’s 2019 World Cup final teammate Liam Plunkett (both San Francisco) also qualify as domestic players.