George Munsey targets a run in Scotland team

George Munsey scored 16 on his Scotland debut against New Zealand A. Pic: Donald MacLeod
George Munsey scored 16 on his Scotland debut against New Zealand A. Pic: Donald MacLeod
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All-rounder George Munsey will further vindicate his decision to give up a promising golf career for cricket if, as expected, he retains his place in Scotland’s team to take on New Zealand A on his home Grange club pitch.

On moving to Scotland for secondary school at Loretto, Munsey benefited from a golf scholarship while always harbouring desires to make the grade in cricket instead.

Although his handicap fell from seven to scratch, the cricketing itch remained and so he took himself off to Australia on an exchange trip “just to clear my head”.

“I had coaches in cricket and golf telling me where my sporting future lay and I just had to get away for five months. It was the right decision as I realised I had a particular passion for team sports and its camaraderie. Cricket suited me better.”

What also helped is that Southport School on the Gold Coast had a tradition of producing cricketing prospects (albeit subsequent world golf No.1 Adam Scott is also an old boy). Munsey found polish being added to his batting and bowling techniques and he has scarcely looked back.

After notable Scotland trials earlier this month, a full debut occurred last Friday when Scotland opened the three-match series with a defeat against the ‘Black Caps’ at Ayr.

“I was obviously a bit nervous before going into bat but really enjoyed the experience,” said the man who got off the mark with a boundary and subsequently fell for 16 as Scotland failed to chase down a huge total (347).

Now that they have had an outing at this level the Scots can expect to improve with Munsey insisting he could not be more at home than at the Grange.

“It’s my home club but all the Scotland boys love playing there. When the second match against New Zealand was washed out on Sunday it was only afterwards that I realised there was provision for a reserve date and that it would be a Wednesday fixture in Edinburgh ahead of the final scheduled encounter the following day. That was a real bonus; any opportunity to play against quality opposition has got to be grabbed.”

If Munsey’s route into international cricket was via a golf course then there were occasions only this year when the prospect of going out to bat for Scotland must have been a long way from his mind.

Towards the end of last season he suffered back problems and a herniated disc was diagnosed necessitating lying flat on his back for periods although – fortunately – no surgery.

“I have a lot of people to thank for getting me back to fitness including medics, physios and the coaches who kept faith in me. The injury occurred around the time I was pushing for a place in the Scotland Twenty20 squad and I couldn’t do myself justice. Thankfully I have recovered in time for this series.”

Along the way Munsey has turned in some stunning displays for Grange and none better than the unbeaten 89 he blasted including 7x6s off the last eight deliveries faced when helping the club power past East Kilbride and into the Scottish Cup Final, which takes place this Sunday against Clydesdale at Stirling.

It is just one of many showpiece occasions which lie ahead on the road to what could be a World Cup appearance in New Zealand early next year.

For the moment, such thoughts are banished.

“There is just so much cricket to be played before then with Ireland coming up next month and tours in the Autumn. My total focus has got to be on getting the most out of this learning experience against New Zealand, who have beaten the English Lions and smashed Northants.”

The New Zealand line-up is packed with experience including Grant Elliott and BJ Watling, both of whom have Test experience, and who plundered centuries when the teams met at Ayr. However, Scotland did get off to a decent start by restricting their opponents to 139-5 after 30 overs.

Coach Grant Bradburn admitted: “The first 35 overs, we bowled well, we fielded well, and then we let it get away from us.”

Priority will be sustaining the effort all the way though, easier said that done in a season where the Scots only managed three one day internationals prior to the Ayr fixture with allowance having to be made for the absence of a schedule involving English county opposition this season. Hopefully more of the Scots playing their trade on the English county scene can be added this week which might help narrow the gap.

Spectators will be admitted free to tomorrow’s match which gets underway at 10.45am.