Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 15 December 2019

George Munsey returns to UAE for Abu Dhabi T10 ready to learn from cricket's big-hitters

Scotland batsman flexed his muscles during the recent T20 World Cup Qualifier and will next play against and alongside some of the game's best batsmen

George Munsey produces one of his many reverse sweep shots for Scotland against the UAE at the T20 World Cup Qualifier. Chris Whiteoak / The National
George Munsey produces one of his many reverse sweep shots for Scotland against the UAE at the T20 World Cup Qualifier. Chris Whiteoak / The National

George Munsey will not have been gone long when he returns to the UAE this week to play in the Abu Dhabi T10.

The in-form opener has had a brief stint at home between helping Scotland qualify for next year’s T20 World Cup and returning to debut for Northern Warriors, T10’s defending champions.

Memories remain fresh of him reverse sweeping away the UAE’s hopes of making it to Australia next year, in the last-chance eliminator play-off at the end of last month.

Munsey was perhaps the most alpha of any batsman on show anywhere at the T20 Qualifier.

When he meets up with his new teammates for the first time in Abu Dhabi this week, though, he is unlikely to be the biggest hitter at his own side’s net sessions, let alone the tournament.

Some of the most destructive power hitters in the world game will assemble at the Zayed Cricket Stadium, for the 10-day, 10-over tournament.

The likes of Yuvraj Singh, Kieron Pollard, and Corey Anderson will be playing, while Munsey himself will be sharing a dressing room with Andre Russell.

Rather than attempt to compete at range hitting with his new colleagues, Munsey says he cannot wait to get learning.

“I think it is going to be really cool to play with these guys, but it won’t be a case of trying to keep up with them so to speak,” Munsey, 26, said.

“In terms of Andre Russell, I would say we are very different in the way we hit the ball. He hits the ball very straight, and very, very far.

“In Canada [at the Global T20 last summer], Colin Munro was on my team, and a few other cricketers who can hit the ball a long way.

“You almost forget about yourself, and watch them and try to take in as much as you possibly can to try to improve.

“I can’t wait to get out there to learn off these guys, see what I can take from them, and see if it works for me as well.”

If the Warriors players do get the chance to head to the golf course at any point during the hectic T10 schedule, it might be that one of them can outdrive Munsey there, too.

Whether they can do it both left handed and right handed seems unlikely, though.

Munsey is naturally left handed, but his adeptness at playing the reverse sweep when batting is a clue to the fact he is almost as comfortable right handed.

The reverse sweep has quickly become his trademark, during his record-breaking rise in cricket this year.

Against the UAE, for instance, he played the shot six balls in a row against the spinner Sultan Ahmed. Two of them ended at least 10 rows back in the stand.

He reasons that it is down to the amount of hockey he played when he was young – and he still plays the occasional game now, when time permits.

“I played hockey growing up, and that is a natural hockey slap,” he said of his dexterity with the reverse sweep. “I’m left handed, but you can only play hockey right handed. So it is a natural feeling for me. I can also play golf right-handed and left-handed, and that helps.

“My clubs are left-handed, but I like to show off and use my mates’ golf clubs and outdrive them right-handed.”

He was a scratch-handicap golfer by the time he was 16, and only opted for cricket over golf when he was 18. He might have been questioning whether that was the right call up until the past 18 months, when he has really begun to thrive.

A string of eye-catching displays in the UK this summer culminated in him scoring the fifth fastest T20I century, against Netherlands in September.

After playing the innings that as good as sealed Scotland’s place in the T20 World Cup, his captain Kyle Coetzer said Munsey “has skills I only wish I could have”.

“George is in a great place at the moment with his cricket, and he is playing extremely well,” Coetzer said in Dubai last month. “He's going to go a very long way in the game.”

Munsey himself is happy to have the chance to ride the momentum of his recent upturn in form, first at the T10, then in the Cricket World Cup League Two series against the UAE and United States that follows.

“One of the main things that has changed is my understanding of the game,” Munsey said. “Two years ago, I really started to focus in on what was working in my game.

"I was given the confidence from the Scotland coaches back then and now to go out and play the way I play.

“I had the licence to go and do as I feel. That confidence really helps you to try and take down bowlers. That is what I try and do.”

Updated: November 10, 2019 10:42 AM

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