- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
When George Munsey moved from Oxford to Edinburgh aged 13, he did so with designs on being a professional athlete. He has made good on that dream, just not in the sport he initially envisaged pursuing.
Golf first brought Munsey to Scotland: a scholarship to Loretto School, one of Scotland’s leading golf schools. By the age of 16, Munsey was a scratch golfer; he and Tyrrell Hatton, who he played regularly alongside in Oxfordshire, dreamt of playing in the Ryder Cup. While Hatton played in his second Ryder Cup last month, Munsey is preparing for his second appearance in the Twenty20 World Cup: vindication for a shift in aspirations aged 16 as he grew weary of the individualistic nature of golf.
“I had aspirations grown up in the golfing world - I wanted to go to the States, get a college scholarship, and the idea was always to turn pro after that,” Munsey recalls. “I always enjoyed golf, but the amount of hours work that I needed to get done to get to the next level was becoming tougher and tougher.
“Playing cricket, I was always enjoying training and games. So it ended up being an easier decision moving away from golf into cricket because of the enjoyment that comes with team sports and practising and just being around a group of players that want to get better.”
Munsey remained in Edinburgh after finishing school, impressing in club cricket and then securing a first central contract with Cricket Scotland in 2014; while the role is full-time, he also works as a salesperson for Gray-Nicholls. Since 2019 Munsey has made the elevation from fringe player to one of the most exciting players in the Associate world - a batsman renowned for his penchant for switch-hitting spin and launching the new ball down the ground. Former England batsman Jonathan Trott, who is working as a consultant for Cricket Scotland, recency said that Munsey has hit “some of the biggest sixes I’ve ever seen in my life” (watch video below). Aged 28, Munsey is poised to enjoy a breakout tournament.
At its best, a Munsey innings is a clinic in uninhibited, controlled violence. In 2019, he plundered 127 not out from 56 balls against the Netherlands, with 14 sixes; against Ireland last week, his 67 took just 25 balls. Such a belligerent approach could be especially important in the T20 World Cup with the expectation that wickets will become harder to bat on as the innings progresses, making exploiting the Powerplay especially important.
Munsey suggests golf is partly to thank for his buccaneering style. “Cricket was always a release for me away from golf,” he says. “I never feared getting out because it wasn't necessarily the be-all and end-all for me.”
Happily, this ethos doubles as a blueprint for how to approach the modern game. At a team meeting in Dundee five years ago, Scotland committed to embracing a more aggressive approach in limited-overs cricket, even if it meant sometimes being bowled out; this spirit led to Scotland posting 371/5 in their ODI victory over England in 2018. In T20, Munsey is liberated to attack from the outset. “The key thing to any teams is to have that role clarity and it's been great in the T20 side to have that. My role is just to get on top of bowlers and really have fun.”
This aim has led Munsey on a constant journey of exploration. Through gym work, the simple zest to improve and a diverse multi-sport background, he has developed his reverse sweeping - originally, he says, the product of playing hockey - into being able to switch-hit the ball over the covers. “In T20 there's a lot of spin in the Powerplay at the moment and there's a potential to take spin down if you can reverse sweep.”
For Munsey, the World Cup looms as a chance to showcase his talents on a global stage. Following on from a fine spell with Kent in the Royal London One-Day Cup last summer, a good tournament could even be his gateway to the lower tier of leagues on the T20 circuit. “As individuals, all the opportunities you get on the big stage are important,” he says. “It’s a fickle world the T20 world - it’s amazing what can happen in a few games.”
For Scotland in the next week, the stakes will be even higher. While there is often discussion about how to give sport - including international cricket - more overarching context and meaning, in Associate cricket, there is no need; almost every match is brimming with context, with qualification, funding and players’ very livelihoods at stake.
Should Scotland qualify for the Super 12 stage - two wins from their three games against Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea and Oman are likely to be enough - they will not just set up a clash with England. Advancement to the Super 12s will also guarantee Scotland’s progression to next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia. All of this could be a crucial staging post on what Scotland hope will be their ultimate destination: becoming the 13th Full Member of the ICC, and the extra funding, fixtures and gravitas that this status would being to develop the sport north of the River Tweed.
It took Scotland until their 21st game in a global event, their match with Hong Kong in the 2016 T20 World Cup, to finally record their first victory on this stage. Munsey, and Scotland, fully expect to add to this World Cup haul rapidly in the Middle East.
“There's a massive belief that we're going to get through to the Super 12s. But there's also a belief that we're going to beat a lot of teams when we get there as well. We've got the skills across all three facets of the game to really push the big guys in these crunch games.”