Raised in Oxford, a golfing contemporary of European Tour players Eddie Pepperell and Tyrell Hatton, George Munsey is a very unlikely Scottish cricket hero.
But this is what he is after the slightly less well remembered innings that helped the Scots sink England for the first-ever time last summer. Calum MacLeod rightly gets the plaudits for his remarkable 140 from 94 balls but Munsey proved a gritty batting partner while racking up 55 from 51 balls.
They shared the crease for nearly an hour en route to a famous six-run victory at The Grange. Now the Scots are eyeing the next step in enhancing their cricket credentials at a T20I tournament in Oman, where the hosts, the Netherlands and old rivals Ireland provide the opposition. Scotland’s tournament, indeed what is a very significant year, begins on Wednesday against the Dutch. New coach Shane Burger joins up in the spring.
What occurred last year is further proof, if any were needed, that the 25-year-old Munsey made the right choice in switching from golf to cricket. The conversion occurred while at Loretto school in Musselburgh so it’s right that Scotland should reap the benefits. Despite having enrolled on a golf scholarship, Munsey realised he preferred the team sport ethic and an exchange year in Brisbane confirmed this. On his return to Musselburgh he had to break the news to the golf coach: thanks for the scholarship but I’ve decided to concentrate on cricket. There were no hard feelings. Munsey even got a job tending the square at Loretto’s scenic Pinkie cricket ground after he left school. He qualifies to play cricket for Scotland on residency grounds.
“I am 100 per cent English,” he confirms. “But I feel more Scottish now than ever. I moved up when I was 12 and basically have stayed here right the way through until I left school and got a flat and a job in Edinburgh. I spent some time in Australia and New Zealand playing top-class cricket there. But I feel like this is my hometown. You don’t know what’s around the corner but I don’t see myself moving away from this wonderful city.”
He does sometimes wonder what might have happened had he stuck with golf. “I would like to think I would have had a chance,” he said. “I was set to go to the States and go to college there. The trouble is it is so cut-throat. I grew up playing golf with Eddie Pepperwell and Tyrell Hatton, top golfers in and around Oxfordshire.
“They went and kicked on and I would like to think I would have if I worked hard enough,” he continued. “But I was not enjoying the practice enough to do it, while with cricket I just loved turning up every day, playing with the same team every day and having fun. We have such a great group here I think I have made the right choice. Being in a team environment has helped me kick on in life.”
Hit the ball harder seems a fairly basic instruction. But this is what Munsey has been working on in the last few months with the help of Julian Wood, a specialist power hitting coach.
“The question was posed to me by the team management that they reckon I could hit the ball harder,” explained Munsey. “I was a bit affronted: ‘What are you talking about? I think I hit the ball pretty hard thanks very much!’ They said: ‘We think you can hit it harder’.
“We have been taking things to extremes. I like that, it is exciting. I see the guys smoking the ball really hard, I feel we can bring a new exciting brand of cricket with the new coach in 2019-20 and showcase what Scottish cricket is all about.”