Steven Mullaney had plenty of reasons to look forward to the 2020 cricket season: it marked a decade since he moved from Lancashire to Trent Bridge; there was the buzz around cricket after England’s nail-biting World Cup win; Nottinghamshire were keen to put the disappointment of their 2019 behind them; and with new recruits and Academy youngsters coming into the first team squad, there was a chance that his third season as Club Captain would see him fashion a team that he could call his own.
In the end, of course, the Corona Virus pandemic and the nation-wide lockdown meant things were very different for ‘Mull’ and his team-mates. His leadership skills were called in ways he can’t have expected – having to keep players motivated, to keep his, and his team’s fitness levels up, and to reassure members and supporters that cricket would come back to Trent Bridge.
All a very long way from the 22 year old – he was born on 19 November 1986 in Warrington, Cheshire – all-rounder that turned down a two-year contract at Old Trafford at the end of the 2009 season to move to Nottinghamshire and challenge for a first team spot at another historic Test ground.
In 2010 Steven Mullaney added his name to the small list of Nottinghamshire players who have scored a century on their first class debut for the county, making exactly 100no against Hampshire at Southampton.
A regular in all three formats of the game, Steven comes into his own in white ball matches. An outstanding fielder and punchy stroke-player, his knack of bowling a sequence of tidy medium-paced overs in the middle of matches has turned many contests in Nottinghamshire’s favour.
In 2017 he played a pivotal role Notts lifted two trophies and secured promotion back to the top flight. He captivated the television audience with his first one-day century, an innings of 111, in the Royal London semi-final against Essex at Chelmsford, a contribution that won him the man-of-the-match award and his side a place at Lord’s. In the final he had a hand in removing the top five in the Surrey order, taking three catches to add to important wickets of Kumar Sangakkara and Ben Foakes.
The Outlaws’ second success of the summer came in the T20 Blast and Mullaney was again instrumental, taking 3-22 and the man-of-the-match award in the semi-final win over Hampshire.
He was seen as the natural replacement to take over when Chris Read, who has led the side for ten years, retired after the double triumphs of 2017. Steven Mullaney captains Nottinghamshire in the County Championship and leads the Notts Outlaws in the Royal London One-Day Cup competition.
Mullaney’s elevation to higher honours hasn’t held back his own performances, with the England selectors now beginning to take note of some outstanding all-round contributions. Having led his side to victory in the North v South series in Barbados in 2018, he has since captained and toured with the England Lions.
Injury severely hampered Mullaney's 2019 season, but the skipper returned to hit a career-best 179 when opening the batting against Warwickshire towards the end of the season. He and Nottinghamshire were expecting that to be a marker for the next season but his resolve and qualities were tested in ways no-one could have anticipated.
At the close of the 2019 season, Mullaney’s First-Class record for Notts showed that in 132 matches he had scored 7,169 runs at 32.88, top score that 179, 14 hundreds, 40 half-centuries and 128 catches. He also took 108 wickets at 34.49 with one five-wicket haul, 5-32 v Gloucestershire. In 101 List-A games, he has totalled 2,216 runs with a top score of 124 against Durham, one of two one-day centuries, at an average of 36.93; he also made a further 15 half-centuries and took 51catches. His one-day bowling returned 82 wickets at 32.41 and best figures of 4-29 v Kent.
In 123 T20 games for The Outlaws, Mullaney has contributed 1,145 runs at 17.34 with a top score of 55, one of two Fifties; he has taken 91 wickets at 29.81 with a best performance of 4-19 versus Leicestershire.