Cult Hero: Alan Mullally
Born: 12 July 1969, Southend-on-Sea, Essex
Batting style: Right-hand bat
Bowling style: Left-arm fast-medium
Teams: Leicestershire 1990-1999; Hampshire 2000-2005
Mullally is, somewhat unfairly, as well known for his ineptness with the bat as he is for his triumphs with the ball. Born on the Essex coast but brought up in Western Australia, it was in his formative years in Perth that Mullally was shaped into a left-arm paceman that was destined to take 708 first-class and 121 international wickets.
He made his first-class debut for Western Australia in 1987 and continued to play for the state for three seasons – while also enjoying his first taste of county cricket in that time, turning out for Hampshire’s second team in the summer of 1988.
English cricket clearly left its mark as Mullally was back on the county circuit with Leicestershire in 1990. He amassed 40-plus first-class wickets in five of his nine seasons with the Foxes, peaking in 1996 with 70 as he helped the Foxes claim their first County Championship title in 21 years. In that same year, Mullally was selected for his first England Test and took five wickets on debut against India at Edgbaston. In the 18 Tests that followed in his career, Mullally took a total of 58 Test wickets at 31.24.
It was in ODIs that Mullally made his most tangible England contribution. He was even once ranked the second-best ODI bowler in the world, in between Glenn McGrath and Muttiah Muralitharan. One of his greatest strengths in the one-day game was his ability to bowl economically, keeping the scoring low and thus building pressure on the batsmen. In fact, of all England bowlers to have taken 50-plus ODI wickets, only Bob Willis has done so at a better economy rate than Mullally’s 3.84.
He left Leicestershire for Hampshire in 2000 where he teamed up with Shane Warne to form an unlikely bowling partnership. In his first season, Mullally took his career-best figures of 9-93 against Derbyshire in what was a difficult year for the club. Though they were relegated, they bounced straight back up in 2001, thanks in no small part to Mullally’s 64 scalps.
But enough of all that success, what of his much-mocked batting? Suffice to say Mullally was once named the worst England number 11 of all time, and the stats appear to back it up. In his 19 Tests, Mullally made 127 runs at an average of 5.52, and his performance was just as bad in his 50 ODIs, scoring just 86 runs at 5.73. There was however a ‘match-winning’ 16 against a Glenn McGrath-inspired Australia at Melbourne in 1998 – England went on to win the game by 12 runs.
By the time he hung up his bowling boots in 2005, Mullally’s name had been indelibly inked in English cricketing folklore with ball, and bat.