Steven Mullaney believes the sense of unity in the Notts Outlaws camp has really shone through during the NatWest T20 campaign so far.
The team have experienced mixed fortunes in their North Group matches so far, losing their opening two games and winning the next three before losing on Wednesday night to the Worcestershire Rapids, meaning they have a 3-3 record.
But all-rounder Mullaney and his team-mates are certainly enjoying their cricket this summer, having already won the Royal London One-Day Cup and risen to the top of Specsavers County Division Two.
The approach of playing with smiles on faces has helped them cope with the loss off the difficult period that has seen them lose the likes of Michael Lumb, Luke Fletcher and Greg Smith since the onset of T20 format.
The Outlaws will hope to boost their chances of a top-four finish when they travel to face high-flyers Lancashire at Emirates Old Trafford tomorrow night.
“I think that one of the best thing about this squad is that everyone is in it together and there are no outsiders,” said Mullaney.
“Everyone who went to Barbados (in March) bonded really well and has felt part of the squad since then, whether they have been younger players or senior pros.
“That’s part of why people like Luke Wood and Tom Moores have been able to come into the side and hit the ground running. Both of them have done really well, and it’s been good to see.”
Although Notts couldn’t quite get over the winning line against Worcestershire, losing a high-scoring game by 13 runs, Mullaney has been mightily impressed by the way the top order has batted in recent matches.
And there’s little wonder when you look at the stats – Riki Wessels has scored 250 runs, Alex Hales 191 and Brendan Taylor 125 in the competition so far.
“It’s been fantastic having Alex Hales available for what could be the whole tournament and he has shown his class in the matches we have played already.
“Riki’s knock to score that 100 against Derbyshire was unbelievable and he’s followed it up since then, while Brendan Taylor has brought the form he had from the 50-over competition into the T20 format.
“I hadn’t batted for two weeks before the Rapids game because of the way they were playing! I didn’t mind that, though, and won’t mind again, if they can keep scoring lots of runs and we go far in the competition.”
Warrington-born Mullaney began his career at Old Trafford, making his debut for the Red Rose county in 2006.
He’s looking forward to returning to the North-West, but has his sights firmly set on helping the Outlaws get back to winning ways.
“I’ve got a few mates at Lancashire still from when I was there. Karl Brown is one of my best mates and then there’s Steven Croft and Stephen Parry.
“I’ve got a decent record playing at Old Trafford, too, but, once we get there, it will just be another big game for us that we want to win.”
Notts Outlaws squad to face Lancashire Lightning (from): Brendan Taylor, Steven Mullaney, Riki Wessels, Alex Hales, Harry Gurney, Luke Wood, Samit Patel, Tom Moores, Brett Hutton, Jake Ball, Dan Christian, Ish Sodhi, Billy Root.