Mr. Smith goes to Washington in Major League Cricket

Test great Steve Smith is to play for Washington Freedom in the second season of Major League Cricket as the Australian influence in the American T20 competition gathers pace.

The 34-year-old Smith will link up with another batting great, coach Ricky Ponting, in the capital-based franchise after the T20 World Cup in the US, where he still hopes to represent Australia again.

It's a signing which was widely expected as Smith was named brand ambassador to Washington Freedom last year, while his state team, NSW, have a high-performance partnership with the club.

In a video post on X on Thursday, Smith said: "I'm super excited about joining the Washington Freedom ... 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. Can't wait for the season. Come on the Freedom!"

In February when he was named Washington coach, Ponting had made it clear he hoped to woo top Australian names into the US adventure, noting: "With the relationships Iโ€™ve had with some of these guys, hopefully those relationships and the right amount of money is enough to bring them to the Freedom.

โ€œThereโ€™s huge potential, huge growth possibilities in the US, even with the IPL ownership model the way it is at the moment, itโ€™s got potential to become huge and I want to be a part of that journey along the way.โ€

Washington finished third in the inaugural season of the six-team tournament last year, with the follow-up edition beginning on July 4 after the conclusion to the World Cup in the US and Caribbean.ย 

Smith has only played four T20 internationals since the start of 2023, and wasn't wanted in the Indian Premier League auction in December, so he's been short of short-format action.

Smith, who owns an apartment in New York, has talked of the prospect of playing in the US as "cool".

Talking of his prospects of making the World Cup squad, he told AAP recently: "I think they're pretty settled up top - to be honest - with [Travis] Head, [David] Warner and [Mitchell] Marsh in the top three.

"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."

But his signing caps an increasingly strong-looking Australian involvement in the tournament.

Adam Zampa and Spencer Johnson will be at the Los Angeles Knight Riders, while Tim David will play for MI New York, the Mumbai Indians'-owned team, with more Australian stars still expected to be snapped up.

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