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ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2023 Associate bowling winner: McMullen pins the neighbours down

The newbie Scotland bowler knocked Ireland down to 70 for 5

Ashish Pant
20-Feb-2024
Michael Leask took most of the plaudits in this game following a sensational 91 not out that took Scotland over the line by just one wicket, but it was McMullen's five-wicket haul that set the game up. The 24-year-old got the ball to nip around, threatening both edges of the bat and had Ireland in trouble early.
With the second delivery of the day, he snared Paul Stirling, who flashed at an outswinger and was gobbled up at first slip. Next ball, Andy Balbirnie was struck in front as he played all around an inswinger. Harry Tector survived the hat-trick ball but was taken out in the fifth over when he edged a fuller-length delivery to second slip. McMullen's opening burst read 3-1-2-3, and he was not done.
He returned at the death to remove the set George Dockrell, and then sent back Gareth Delany, who had made a quick 19, to complete his five-wicket haul. Scotland captain Richie Berrington revealed after the game that McMullen wasn't quite well, which possibly explained his absence from the middle overs, while also making his effort extra special.

Key moment

After the early jolts, Dockrell and Curtis Campher had steadied Ireland with a big sixth-wicket stand of 136. Just when Dockrell was looking to open up his shoulders, McMullen came back for his second spell and cut his innings short. Dockrell backed away, looking to target the off side, but McMullen kept the ball straight at the stumps, and found a hint of away shape, beating the batter comprehensively and bowling him.

The numbers

1 The number of five-wicket hauls McMullen has taken in international cricket; this was his first.
6 Where McMullen's 5 for 34 ranks among the best bowling performances for Scotland in ODI cricket

What they said

"Brandon was absolutely superb with the new ball. You couldn't ask for a better start. After his first spell, he did really well to come back [though he was] not feeling particularly great at the time. It just shows the character he has."
- Scotland captain Richie Berrington

The closest contender

Paul van Meekeren
4 for 23 vs Bangladesh, ODI World Cup, Kolkata

A spell that set up Netherlands' second win in the 2023 World Cup. This one was as convincing as they could get. Defending an unimposing 229, van Meekeren broke Bangladesh's chase in the middle overs, taking out Najmul Hossain Shanto, captain Shakib Al Hasan, and Mushfiqur Rahim. That sent Bangladesh from 45 for 2 in the 12th over to 70 for 6 in the 18th. The tall fast bowler then returned to claim the wicket of Taskin Ahmed, giving Netherlands a famous win in Kolkata.

Ashish Pant is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo