Surrey sends Vitality Blast statement with 73-point win over Middlesex
There was once a time when any T20 played at Lord’s was enough of a meeting of old and new worlds, without needing that kind of intrusion from the future of cricket.
But as the Surrey and Middlesex players warmed up ahead of their Vitality Blast opener here, confirmation broke out of a story that had been quietly rumbling for some time, much louder throughout the day, and will undoubtedly prove in time another watershed moment for the English game. .
England World Cup winner Jason Roy has agreed to give up his additional contract with the ECB in order to take part in the inaugural edition of Major League Cricket, the new T20 franchise tournament set to launch in as the sport’s new attempt to finally crack. America later this summer.
And frankly, who could blame him? Roy is, at present, a one-size-fits-all international cricketer, and in the format which, beyond this year’s World Cup, seems to have the least secure future of the three. He won’t miss a single game against England during his time in the United States, or even a T20 for Surrey, having pledged to hang around for Blast Finals Day if they go that far.
For a few weeks work in the US at the end of July, he will earn several times the value of his additional contract, worth between £60,000 and £70,000 a year, and the ECB will not have to shell out what is left to pay. this salary, the contract having to run until October.
Roy has already reiterated his commitment to England as his ‘priority’ and they, in turn, confirmed that the outgoing ODI fly-half’s decision will not affect his chances of keeping that shirt ahead of the defense of the Autumn World Cup in India.
The nervous concern therefore lies not in the substance of Roy’s transatlantic sojourn, which comes with the blessing of the ECB, but in what it could, or rather, will foreshadow.
England are not naive to the threat posed by the increasing dominance of franchise cricket on the global landscape, a threat accelerated over the past year by the birth of several new tournaments, all of which have a certain level IPL support as the T20 Web outside the international game becomes ever more closely intertwined.
Already, the ECB has shown signs of its growing, sympathetic flexibility by allowing several non-centrally contracted players to turn down spots on Bangladesh’s white ball tour to take more lucrative gigs at Pakistan’s Super League earlier this year. It is also accepted that England match fees and central contracts will need to be restructured and increased in value to be competitive, although where the necessary resources will come from remains to be seen.
Roy, however, is the first England player to opt out of such a deal and won’t be the last, maybe not even the last this summer. MLC is the first rival franchise to arrive in a window so close to the heart of the English season and is set to expand. This time next year the breaks may not be so sharp.
Returning from a stint with Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL, Roy was due to play for Surrey here, only to be ruled out shortly before the draw (and shortly after his statement was released) with a calf problem picked up in the warm.
Even still, Surrey’s stacked line-up showed why they are among the favorites to end their 20-year wait for a second T20 title by posting 199 for six to stage a 73-point victory.
Will Jacks hammered 43 from 22, while the Curran brothers, Sam and Tom, shared a stand of 118 for the third wicket, the former making 68 just days after returning from the IPL and the latter exactly 50 playing as a specialist drummer. on his return from a stress fracture.
Helm’s excellent finish brought three wickets for just three runs and left the visitors just short of 200, but that proved too much of a chase order, with Jacks and Gus Atkinson each taking three wickets as the start Middlesex’s promising fell flat in a 93-for-three 126-all-out slump.