Aussie trio join forces with Ponting at Washington Freedom as USA attracts top stars for MLC

Australia’s top stars have signed with Washington Freedom for the upcoming season of Major League Cricket (MLC). 

The ambassador of Washington Freedom in the previous season, Steve Smith will turn up as a player this time for the side in Major League Cricket 2024.

The Aussie star will link up with Ricky Ponting, who took on the role of head coach for Washington Freedom earlier this year in February.

"I'm super excited about joining the Washington Freedom for season two of the MLC," Smith said in a video posted on the Freedom's social media channels. "I can't wait to meet all of my new teammates and play in front of some incredible crowds in America.

“I'm also really looking forward to working with Ricky Ponting again, and his amazing staff."

Joining Smith at the Freedom will be his Aussie teammates Travis Head and Glenn Maxwell, the latest acquisitions of the Washington-based team. Head and Maxwell, who are currently playing in the Indian Premier League and are expected to be sure-shot starters for Australia at the upcoming T20 World Cup, will continue their stay in the USA after the mega-event.

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During a recent episode of the ICC Review, Ricky Ponting discussed the potential for exponential growth in the USA, citing the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup and Major League Cricket as catalysts.

“I think there's a great opportunity to continue to grow and promote the game in that part of the world,” Ponting opined.  And that's a big part of the reason that I took the coaching job at Washington Freedom, to be a part of that sort of movement to grow the game in the US," Ponting added.

“There's obviously so many expat Indians, West Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, and Afghans in that part of the world that we know that they will continue to promote the game. But what we have to do is get the Americans into loving and understanding the game of cricket.”

“I'd like to think it can become really big and as I said, actually become really big quite quickly.”

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MLC has successfully attracted top international stars, with Washington signing up-and-coming Kiwi star Rachin Ravindra alongside retained players Akeal Hossein and Marco Jansen from last season.

Smith and Head will be a part of a strong Aussie contingent at the MLC, with Adam Zampa (Los Angeles Knight Riders), Spencer Johnson (Knight Riders) and Tim David (MI New York) set to play in the upcoming season. The tournament will commence on 4 July right after the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024, which ends on 29 June.

Smith will be fighting for a spot in the T20 World Cup squad, though he will face stiff competition from the likes of David Warner, Head and Mitchell Marsh, all of whom have staked claims for top-order spots in the Australian lineup.

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Smith hasn’t featured regularly for Australia in the shortest format, playing only four T20Is since the start of 2023. He opened the batting in the recent series against New Zealand in February, though he returned scores of 11 and 4 in the two games.

While Ponting highlighted the potential value of Smith's experience to the Australian squad on ICC Review, the 34-year-old remains nonchalant about selection, as he expressed in the aftermath of the New Zealand series.

"I think they're pretty settled up top - to be honest - with [Travis] Head, [David] Warner and [Mitchell] Marsh in the top three,'' he had told AAP. "I'm not really sure what [selectors] want to do. I'm not really too fussed either way. If I'm there, I'm there; if I'm not, I'm not."

Australia are placed in Group B alongside England, Namibia, Scotland and Oman. Their T20 World Cup campaign will begin on 5 June when they take on Oman at the Kensington Oval in Barbados.


NewsUSASteven Smith 06/02/1989Ricky Ponting 12/19/1974