Steven Smith joins Washington Freedom ahead of Major League Cricket's second season

Steven Smith was quick off the blocks AFP/Getty Images

Steven Smith has been confirmed as a signing for Major League Cricket (MLC) franchise Washington Freedom ahead of the second season of the tournament which begins on July 4. The move had been widely tipped, with Smith having signed as a brand ambassador for Freedom last year, and with Australia's international schedule allowing a clear window for him to participate through July.

New South Wales (NSW), Smith's domestic team in Australia, have a high-performance partnership with Freedom, although NSW coach Greg Shipperd was replaced by Ricky Ponting 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 team-mates 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."

Freedom recently announced the signing of Rachin Ravindra, the New Zealand allrounder. They retained two overseas players from the 2023 season in Marco Jansen and Akeal Hosein.

Smith, who owns an apartment in New York, has previously said it would be "pretty cool" to play in the USA.

However, he faces a fight to earn a spot in Australia's final 15-member squad for the T20 World Cup, which will be held in June, having been unable to play much T20 cricket in recent times. Since his prolific return to the BBL for Sydney Sixers in the 2022-23 season, where he made 346 runs at a strike rate of 174.74, Smith has played two T20Is in India, two matches in last season's BBL and as many games against New Zealand in February, where he made 11 and 4 while opening the batting.

But after the New Zealand series, he said he was relaxed about whichever way the selection call for the T20 World Cup fell, with Australia having to name their initial squad by May 1.

"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."

Smith joins Adam Zampa (Los Angeles Knight Riders), Spencer Johnson (Knight Riders) and Tim David (MI New York) as confirmed Australian signings for the second season of MLC, with more expected to join for the tournament which starts immediately after the T20 World Cup in the USA and West Indies ends on June 29.