The strong accent remains, as does his pride for the county of his upbringing, but, when it comes to his cricket, there’s no doubting where Steven Mullaney’s allegiances now lie.
No-one was more delighted than the all-rounder when he made his professional debut as a 19-year-old in a Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy match at Worcester in May 2006, picking up the wicket of Kabir Ali in a 119-run win for the visitors.
But after his appearances at Emirates Old Trafford were limited, a move to Trent Bridge in the summer of 2010 really kick-started Mullaney’s career, and since then a steady upward curve, both in terms of his on-field contribution and standing in the dressing room, has ensued.
I don’t think that this match and situation being against my old county puts any extra onus on it for me.”
Indeed, the 2017 summer was the 31-year-old’s best to date, with 709 runs and 25 wickets in 12 Specsavers County Championship, not to mention another 378 runs and eight wickets in the Royal London One-Day Cup and 173 runs and eight wickets in the T20 Blast, helping Notts to promotion and a rarely-achieved white ball trophy double.
Now newly-installed as Club Captain, the Club’s number five will be in familiar surroundings as he leads the side in to battle in a competitive match for the first time since Chris Read’s retirement last September.
Yet while he still has a huge amount of respect for his former employers, and will never forget his roots, these days he’s Nottinghamshire through and through.
“I don’t think that this match and situation being against my old county puts any extra onus on it for me, because it would have been a proud and privileged moment whoever it was going to be against,” insists Mullaney. “This will be my ninth season at Trent Bridge now so I’m firmly an Outlaw, but it will be nice going back and leading the team for the first time at my old ground.
“It actually feels like the first game as Captain has come round quite quickly, especially since Christmas. But I cannot wait to get stuck in at Old Trafford and I’m confident that we have practised really well and are ready to go.
“Whether I get a decent reception from the Lancashire members depends how the first session goes, I suppose! I’m sure I will see some familiar faces, but I will always say hello and be respectful, so hopefully there won’t be any harsh words.
"Whether I get a decent reception from the Lancashire members depends how the first session goes, I suppose!”
“My best mates at the Club are Karl Brown and Steven Croft, who are still there, and I’ve been away with a few others in the Lancashire team recently in the North-South series. I’m quite good friends with them all, but as soon as that bell rings at 11am tomorrow, there will be no friends for the next six or so hours, or the three days that follow, while we’re playing.”
Read notwithstanding, who served as skipper for a decade, Mullaney follows in the footsteps of some illustrious names to lead Notts, including the likes of Sir Garfield Sobers, Reg Simpson, Clive Rice, Tim Robinson and Stephen Fleming, to name but a few.
But he is far from overawed by those detailed on the honours board at the bottom of the stairs up to the players’ dressing rooms in the Trent Bridge pavilion. Instead, he feels inspired and is ready to tackle the job head on.
He says: “Am I ready as skipper? I suppose we will soon find out. It’s my first game as Captain and I feel ready. The way I want to lead the side is very clear in my mind and I’m confident in my mind I will do a decent job and that the lads will follow me and hopefully trust in the decisions I make.
“I do want to lead from the front and first and foremost I want to make sure that my own game is in order. I think that’s one of the most important things for any Captain. I just want to play the best that I know I can play and hopefully that is good enough.”
Lancashire finished second in Specsavers County Championship Division One last season while Notts claimed the same position in Division Two – enough to earn them promotion back to the top flight.
“We have a thing that we try not to concentrate too much on the opposition and try to concentrate on ourselves.”
Mullaney is not underestimating the step up in quality and knows the Red Rose County will provide a stern early test.
“Lancashire have a very good side and I’m sure they will fancy themselves to be up there in the table come the end of the season,” he says.
“But we have a thing that we try not to concentrate too much on the opposition and try to concentrate on ourselves and if we do that I think it will stand us in good stead.”
Nottinghamshire squad to face Lancashire (from): Jake Libby, Chris Nash, Steven Mullaney (c), Mark Footitt, Riki Wessels, Harry Gurney, Luke Wood, Luke Fletcher, Samit Patel, Tom Moores (wkt), Ross Taylor, Jake Ball, Billy Root.
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