McLean is the digital lead for data and information services company, Experian, and on the weekends leads the UNSW First Grade team in the NSW Premier Cricket competition.

After taking on the captaincy three seasons ago, McLean has led the club through a renewal period inheriting a “very, very young team” which is now just starting to realise, it's potential making a series of finals in the Kingsgrove Sports T20 Cup and finishing runners-up last year.

He is a proud example of the connection between UNSW and the club itself, something perhaps atypical in Sydney Grade cricket with a limited number of university teams and a natural emphasis on player development from the Under 16 level.

“I've got a very strong affinity to UNSW, absolutely loved my time there studying and I've grown to absolutely love the club,” said McLean.

“It’s great to still see the club have so many connections with the people whilst I was at uni, like (Elite Athlete Coordinator) Helen Bryson still comes to games and will message, remains in contact.

“For the club, whilst we might operate as different entities, you do want to feel like you're one and the same with a lot of the other sporting clubs across the university as well.”

Whilst studying his Bachelor of Commerce, McLean began his cricket journey at the neighbouring Randwick Petersham Cricket Club, and through his friendships on campus was swayed over to the Bumblebees.

“Basically, a lot of my best mates were in my commerce degree with me, who are still my best mates today, and they happened to also ironically play cricket for UNSW at the time,” said the 29-year-old, whose brother Hayden also studied Commerce at UNSW and plays alongside him in First Grade for the university.

“Following a couple years at uni, I decided to make the change over to UNSW. Given it's a big-time commitment each week and all my best mates were playing here, so that was sort of how I ended up at UNSW.

As is life, many moved on including Charlie Wakim and Tom Rogers, both of whom now play for Tasmania.

“Charlie Wakim is still one of my best mates. Him, Tom Atallah Tom Gallop, Nick Walker, all those boys were in the team and my brother, Hayden, as well,” McLean said.

“Got to know them really well through University Games actually. We did two years of Uni Games (now Uni Nationals) in the cricket team, where we actually were fortunate to win the national titles and then get trips to Sri Lanka, India and England off the back of it.”

That included representing UNSW at the Red Bull World Campus Cricket Finals in London, 2014, when they were coached by optometry alumni and Australian cricket great Geoff Lawson. 

“They were the big reason for me moving across to the club after that experience,” McLean said.

McLean was selected in the Australian Combined Universities side in 2016. The UNSW skipper also three times consecutively earned selection in the Australian University Games Merit team; 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16.

McLean was 27 at the time of taking on the club captaincy and has enjoyed the challenge immensely.

“I took on the leadership role at a point where the club had David Dawson retire, who was a club great and had been the captain for many, many years.

“It was a little bit of a changing of the guard."

In Grade cricket, it is often the case that the best player becomes the captain, which by his own admission wasn’t the case for McLean.

“To be completely candid, I don't know if I deserved it at the time, I was probably one of the only options, being one of only a couple of guys who were over the age of 25.

“That was challenging in itself, because normally when the team is struggling, captains can rely on the fact that they are the best player, whereas I didn't have that luxury."

For McLean, the focus was more on team culture and team morale.

“UNSWCC with its rich history, we're quite fortunate in that we have a really strong ‘old boys’ network. Club greats like the Geoff Lawsons of the world, for example, still come down to training,” he said.

Timothy Lang, Geoff Lawson and Dan Christian (Photo: John Lupton, UNSWCC)

“You’ve got that connection to a lot of the history, especially through the 1970s and 80s when the club in particular was really, really strong.

“So, I think for me the satisfaction is now – after probably five to 10 years where we weren't doing as well as we would have liked – to have been a part of that rebuild, alongside a number of other guys at the club (and) now getting to again bear some of those fruits of the labour. That's super exciting.”

As is evident by a cursory glance at this season’s NSW Premier Cricket tables for all five grades.

First-grade is still in the race for the top six to qualify for finals, third-grade is fourth, fourth-grade sits sixth and fifth-grade are right up there at the pointy end in second.

“That's chalk and cheese to where we were two or three years ago, where we'd be lucky to probably have one,” McLean said.

Since taking on the captaincy, McLean has found several parallels with his professional life.

“(It’s been) really interesting … especially now as a 29-year-old now moving into leadership roles in a work capacity as well.

“Managing culture and different personalities, having difficult conversations and motivating people; it's amazing how many parallels you probably take subconsciously from one to another, and back and forth.”

McLean completed his Bachelor of Commerce in 2013, majoring in Management and Marketing.

This year, UNSW cricketers Declan White and Tom Connolly have both earned High Performance Club Scholarships, as part of the Elite Athlete Program, continuing the strong link between the club and university McLean describes.