Alan Mullally to Craig McMillan – dot ball

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Welcome to the third and final part of Cricket’s Greatest Dot Balls. We hope it’s been worth the wait as we now revisit perhaps the greatest dot ball of them all.

The backdrop

It was the fourth Test of the 1999 Test series between England and New Zealand, a momentous match which saw debuts for both Darren Maddy and Ed Giddins and which also allowed the British public to wave farewell to Ronnie Irani. It was New Zealand’s second innings and Alan Mullally was annoyed because Ed Giddins had just snaffled the prize wicket of Roger Twose.

Mullally was really ticking and Craig McMillan was the poor unfortunate who was set to be on the receiving end. Mullally’s opening spell had been characterised by a lot of deliveries being left alone wide of off stump and he had been accused of wasting the new ball. Now, he was ready to make amends.

The dot ball

Mullally approached the crease with a real spring in his saunter and delivered the ball with real intent at genuine fast-medium pace. McMillan only just had time to judge that it was going well wide of off-stump, but he was smart enough to withdraw his bat so that there was no chance of an edge. Dot ball.

The aftermath

Mullally got his man LBW a short time afterwards, although it was probably going over the top. He would go on to play three more Tests.

McMillan played plenty more Tests and memorably hit hundreds against both Zimbabwe and Bangladesh within a 12-month period. In his final Test, against Australia, he was denied the opportunity to bat in New Zealand’s follow-on innings due to persistent rain.

Roger Twose’s dismissal by Ed Giddins sadly marked the end of his Test career. He now works in banking.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. KC has got this one temporally wrong, I fear.

    Daisy and I were at that match on that day – Day Three, the Saturday – have I mentioned this fact before? It was Daisy’s first ever taste of live test cricket.

    Giddins dismissed Twose with the last ball of the 16th over. Mullally didn’t bowl again until the 27th.

    Luncheon was taken at the end of the 20th over.

    There must have been best part of 90 minutes between the Twose dismissal and the great Mullally dot ball. “…just snaffled…”? I don’t think so, KC.

    It is a shame that such a schoolboy error has besmirched an otherwise excellent series of reportage.

    During the lunch interval, Daisy and I set to on a splendid array of sandwiches, savoury snacks, bisuits and plentiful wine. The warm sausages were but a distant memory by luncheon, completely demolished during the noon drinks interval, as has since so often proved to be the case in similar circumstances.

    By the time of the great dot ball, nearly half an hour after lunch, Daisy was doing that thing that looks a bit like reading her magazine (Vogue I think it was, or perhaps it was Tatler) and looks a bit like having an afternoon nap and looks a bit like watching cricket.

    I was following the match intently, in that “post lunch oblivious mode” known to all sensible lovers of test cricket. You have to pace yourself for test cricket.

    Then the delivery now known as “Mullally’s great dot ball”.

    Daisy sat bolt upright. “Did you see that?”, she asked. “That must have been one of the greatest dot balls in history. Mark my words, they’ll be talking about that delivery for many years to come. Must be one of the top three of all time.”

    As usual, Daisy got it spot on.

    And how did those fools at Cricinfo describe it? “26.6 Mullally to McMillan, no run, wide outside off, no shot required…Mullally shows his accuracy and threat is a few notches down on that of Caddick and Giddins”.

    Tisk tisk.

    1. Good memory you’ve got there, Ged. Did you keep a diary? Or are you just going by pure recollection?

    2. Pure, sam, very pure.

      It’s a shame that KC messed up what was otherwise a splendid series.

      I did like the expression “real spring to his saunter” though. Quintessential Mullally.

      But writing is like batting – it can look terrific and flash for ages, but one mistake and it’s back to the pavilion, no repreve. Unless you are Baby Bell getting run out just before tea, of course.

    3. Easiest decision I’ve ever had to give.

      We’ve all been there. Put it down to bad luck and take the positives.

    4. Don’t be ridiculous, Deep Cower.

      That is neither what I said nor what I meant.

      The series is almost a masterpiece, which is why it has been spoiled by a schoolboy temporal error on KC’s part.

      By way of analogy, imagine a Kevin Pietersen 158 innings (there have been several). Of course those innings are not “completely wrong” by virtue of his dismissal. They are near masterpieces. But by virtue of that excellence, the poor shot that leads to KP’s demise spoils the overall effect.

      Similarly, this KC series. So close to being a masterpiece of a trilogy. Tragic, really, that one small but vital flaw.


  2. Roger Twose from memory was very ugly. as was that Surrey openor I forget his name.

    I was a big fan of Allan mullaly though. never reached his potential that I thought he had.

  3. The best place to watch Big Al bowling from was square leg, I found. He had a good looking action, and you couldn’t see what line he was bowling down.

  4. A nice series of dot balls with a cricketing juggernaut of legendary players. However, for pure schadenfreude my favourite dot ball would have to be:

    44.6 Muralitharan to Boucher, no run, Boucher offers up a solid forward defence as the rain comes down even heavier, and it looks like the umpires are going to bring the covers on.

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