Four Indian Premier League teams to take part in inaugural Major League Cricket in the US in July
Microsoft’s Indian American chief CEO Satya Nadella has formed Seattle’s new professional cricket team in partnership with Delhi Capitals’ co-owner GMR Group to compete in Major League Cricket (MLC), a new T20 franchise league in the USA.
Named Seattle Orcas, the new team representing the Greater Seattle area, and the Pacific Northwest more broadly, will leap into competition in the historic debut season of MLC in July, the league announced Thursday.
The new league will bring some of the world’s top players to compete in a sport that boasts millions of fans in the United States and is the second most watched sport globally with more than two billion followers, according to an MLC release.
The team unveiled its logo and team name Thursday. The mark honors the Pacific Northwest’s beloved Orcas, considered a symbol of power and strength, featuring the black and white colors of the highly intelligent and collaborative marine mammals.
Light-green highlights on the logo set the Seattle Orcas alongside other professional teams in the area honoring the region’s lush vegetation and waterways.
The Seattle Orcas also announced that the team has partnered with one of the top T20 cricket franchises in the world to help build its roster for the inaugural season.
The Delhi Capitals is a leading franchise in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Delhi Capitals’ co-owner GMR Group will partner with Seattle Orcas to help build and operate a world class cricket team.
The Delhi Capitals have competed in the IPL since 2008 (originally as the Delhi Daredevils), with six playoff appearances and a first-place finish in the 2021 regular season standings.
The Seattle Orcas’ lead investor group includes Nadella, Soma Somasegar (Managing Director of Madrona Ventures), Samir Bodas (Co-founder and CEO, Icertis), Ashok Krishnamurthi (Managing Partner, GreatPoint Ventures) and Sanjay Parthasarathy (former senior executive at Microsoft and Avalara).
Read: Cricket is on a fast track in America: Tom Dunmore (September 20, 2021)
“We are super excited to bring world class cricket to the Pacific Northwest, which has a vibrant and passionate community of cricket and sports fans. The Orcas name and the team’s colors pay tribute to our local community that has helped build that spirit of support,” said Soma Somasegar. “We are thrilled to partner with the Delhi Capitals’ Co-Owner GMR Group to help us launch with the strongest possible team this summer.”
“We see America as the new frontier for cricket’s growth globally, and the Pacific Northwest provides an incredible opportunity for us to bring the resources of GMR Sports to the region and help the Seattle Orcas build a team competing for championships,” said Kiran Kumar Grandhi, Managing Director and CEO of GMR Group, a Co-Owner of Delhi Capitals.
The Seattle Orcas will join teams representing Texas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, DC, playing the T20 format of the game starting July 13, with the 2023 MLC championship final set for July 30.
“The Pacific Northwest is a hotbed for American cricket, with a vibrant youth scene and the current reigning Minor League Cricket champions, the Seattle Thunderbolts, hailing from the area. It’s going to be exciting to see the Seattle Orcas build on that platform and compete in the inaugural Major League Cricket championship this summer,” said Justin Geale, MLC Tournament Director.
While Seattle will not host any matches during the 2023 season, the team, along with MLC, is working with King County and the City of Bellevue to build a Cricket Community Park that could host up to 6,000 people for future Seattle Orcas’ home games and other international cricket events, the release said.
Read: Cricket to get big boost in New York state (December 14, 2021)
The 20-acre facility would be in Marymoor Park in Redmond, a few miles east of Seattle, with the Redmond City Council passing a motion of support for the development.
Meanwhile, according to an ESPNcricinfo report, besides Delhi Capitals, two other prominent IPL franchises —Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings — have bought stakes in MLC and will anchor franchises in New York and Texas respectively.
That means four out of the six teams in MLC overall will be helmed by IPL franchises, after Kolkata Knight Riders, one of the earliest investors in the tournament, took charge of the Los Angeles franchise.
While Mumbai, like Knight Riders, will run the New York franchise on its own, it said, Super Kings, too, have allied with a local investor in the Texas franchise.
The two other franchises in the league are based out of Washington DC and San Francisco. The Washington DC franchise – to be called Washington Freedom – is owned by local American investor Sanjay Govil, who has tied up with New South Wales Cricket, to provide the operational expertise including helping set up the squad and putting a cricketing structure in place.
Read: New Seattle cricket team backed by Satya Nadella unveils name (March 16, 2023)
A similar strategic tie-up has been struck between San Francisco franchise, owned by Anand Rajaraman and Venky Harinarayan, and Cricket Victoria.
The player draft for local US players scheduled to be on March 19 at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The squad size will comprise minimum 15 and maximum 18 players, of which nine can be overseas players. At least six players in the playing XI will need to be from the USA. The overseas players will be direct signings by the franchises, not part of the draft, according to ESPNcricinfo. The teams will have a purse of $800,000 for overseas signings and $300,000 for the US-based players.