Mullaney seeks home last-eight tie
Nottinghamshire all-rounder Steven Mullaney believes the Outlaws are capable of clinching a home Friends Life t20 quarter-final tie following an unbeaten start to the competition.
The 25-year-old currently tops the club’s t20 bowling stats, claiming five wickets at an average of 8.40 from their only two completed games, as Nottinghamshire, who face Durham this Friday, sit pretty at the top of the North Group with two wins.
Seamer Mullaney insists Notts, who boast a plethora of international-quality players, can remain in pole position and is pleased with how they have began this year's competition, despite the issues with the weather.
“We are delighted with the way we have started,” Mullaney told ecb.co.uk. “We have got some very good players in our side and if we perform, we should be up there at the end of the group stage.
“If you would have offered us top spot after five games, and after only playing two games, I would have bitten your hand off. We can’t complain, we are top of the table and it is in our own hands.
“We would like a home quarter-final, that is our main aim, but our main focus is Friday at the minute and then we will take each games as it comes. Hopefully, we can get a home quarter-final tie at a packed Trent Bridge and do better than we did last year.
“But we are keeping our feet on the floor; it can quickly change and if you look too far ahead it can bite you on the bum.”
The Outlaws are currently preparing for their FLt20 clash with the Dynamos, and Mullaney believes that the key to victory will be removing South African Herschelle Gibbs early just as they did in the sides' first meeting.
“I am hoping that I don’t have to bowl to him (Gibbs)," Mullaney joked. "I am hoping we can get him out in the first over again that would be nice.
“Whoever I bowl to, I will just try and do what I did in the previous games and hope that it pays off again, hopefully come in with them three or four down with a bit of luck.
“They are a very dangerous side and their top three are all international-class players and Phil Mustard has already hit one hundred this year. They are dangerous both batting and bowling so we will have to be right on the top of our game if we are going to win.”
Nottinghamshire’s seamers have made a superb start to the 2012 competition, dismissing Leicestershire for 96 and then reducing an explosive Durham side to just 114.
But Mullaney insists that it is an all-round team effort and the batsman will get their opportunity to impress.
He added: “We have just got to do everything well - bat, bowl and field - we have had the best of the conditions in those two games, but we have executed our skills very well.
“I think all aspects of the game are important and I think at some stage we will bat first so we have to be confident of putting a big score on the board and still execute our skills well in the second half.
“We have been training incredibly hard; for example yesterday we had a centre wicket practice, and the boys will all be ready when they are called upon.”
If the Outlaws advance to the quarter-finals, they will be competing during a busy LV= County Championship period, but Mullaney believes it will not be a distraction as the squad already constantly changes due to international commitments.
“I don’t think the County Championship will be a distraction next month before the quarter-finals," he added.
"We have got distractions all the time with Samit (Patel) away with England and Alex (Hales) going well in the Twenty20s, but we are very close as a squad off the field so we will gel right back together and hopefully it won’t affect us."
Mullaney also sees a very bright future for England hero Hales after his knock of 99 secured a seven-wicket victory against West Indies.
“He (Hales) showed his talent on Sunday for England and hopefully he can turn that form in for us and I am sure he has got a lot more international cricket ahead of him," Mullaney said.
“I think he can play in any form; he is a quality player and I am pretty sure that he will score a lot of runs for Nottinghamshire and hopefully for England.”