‘I’ll never walk away from England’: Jason Roy insists he will still be available for national selection after terminating his ECB central contract to sign a lucrative deal to play Major League Cricket in the United States
- Roy’s deal with the Los Angeles Knight Riders is worth £300,000 over two years
- Big-hitting batter wants to pursue the deal despite jeopardy to England place
- Roy lost his T20 World Cup place last year but remains in the 50-over fold
Jason Roy confirmed on Thursday he has terminated his ECB central contract to sign a lucrative deal to play Major League Cricket in the United States this summer.
Mail Sport revealed earlier in the day that the World Cup-winning opening batter had informed the ECB he wanted to take up the offer of a £300,000, two-year deal from the Los Angeles Knight Riders in preference to his incremental contract, which is worth £60,000 a year and is due to expire in October.
Roy is the first England player to walk away from a central contract in order to pursue alternative ambitions with a Twenty20 franchise, but made it clear he still wants to play for his country and is targeting this autumn’s 50-over World Cup in India.
As Major League Cricket clashes with County Championship and T20 Blast matches in July, the ECB were only prepared to grant him the No Objection Certificate required to play if they cancelled his deal with them.
‘To be very clear, my priority is England cricket, especially with a World Cup soon upon us,’ Roy wrote on Twitter. ‘It is for me, and for any player, the greatest honour to receive a cap to play for their country. I wanted to clarify that I am not and never will walk away from England.’
Jason Roy plans to walk away from his England central contract to sign a lucrative two-year deal with new Major League Cricket franchise Los Angeles Knight Riders
Roy has been a regular presence at the top of the order for England in 50-over cricket
Roy was a mainstay of England’s white ball revolution under Eoin Morgan, which climaxed in winning the 50-over World Cup for the first time at Lord’s four years ago.
But he lost his place in the side last summer and was left out of the squad for the Twenty20 World Cup last autumn, which England also won.
The 32-year-old was recalled to the 50-over team after the short-form World Cup, however, and played nine one-day internationals against Australia, South Africa and Bangladesh last winter.
The ECB have provided reassurances that Roy’s decision will not affect his chances of World Cup selection, although that claim will be sorely tested in the coming months, as they will be wary of setting a precedent which could encourage other players to leave domestic cricket for franchise tournaments abroad.
England team-mates Alex Hales, David Willey and Reece Topley are all understood to have similar offers from Major League Cricket franchises, although none of them have yet signed up.
Roy played a key role when England won the 50-over World Cup back in 2019
He has been playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders during the latest Indian Premier League
Roy’s willingness to walk away from an ECB deal illustrates the threat to international cricket posed by the rise of T20 franchise leagues, fuelled by the huge growth of the Indian Premier League.
Mail Sport revealed this month that Mumbai Indians are preparing to offer Jofra Archer a 12-month contract that would take precedence over his ECB deal and Roy’s move reflects this trend, as the LA Knight Riders are owned by his IPL team, Kolkata Knight Riders.
The inaugural Major League Cricket, which launches in Texas this summer, represents a particular threat to English cricket due to scheduling, with Mail Sport revealing that the new competition will expand into August next year, leading to a clash with the Hundred.
Four of the six franchises in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Texas and Washington are owned by IPL teams who are offering salaries of up to £300,000, compared to a top rate of just £125,000 in the Hundred.
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