George Munsey's bread-and-butter shot continues to cause chaos in Dubai

ESPN Cricinfo

ESPN Cricinfo

Author 2019-10-31 14:19:38

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The premise of scoring runs in cricket is simple: hit the ball where the fielders are not placed. When there is nobody behind square on the off-side boundary to a spin bowler, the reverse sweep is a very high-percentage one.

It can hardly even be called a gamble anymore for George Munsey. It is the foundation of the left-hand batsman's strokeplay - he won't hesitate to play it from the very first ball of the match - and it's one which few teams have found an answer for in the men's T20 World Cup qualifier. The UAE bowlers were the latest to be reverse swept away on Wednesday afternoon as Munsey used the stroke to eliminate the hosts from the qualifiers and punch Scotland's fourth trip to the event.

"George is obviously a very talented player," Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer said of his star of the match in the post-match press conference. "He can hit a golf ball a mile, he can hit a cricket ball a mile. He's not very good at football, unfortunately. But he does have the ability to hit the balls 360 [degrees] on the cricket field. So he'll use the reverse sweep when he needs to but he's also capable of hitting the ball to the leg side if he needs to or back over the bowler's head.

"He can probably understand that it's a challenge for bowlers at times. George is in a great place at the moment with his cricket and he is playing extremely well. He's going to go a very long way in his game. He keeps his head down and makes sure he gets his performances. We also have a number of guys who can play 360 but George is the one who is at the top of the game at the moment."

UAE captain Ahmed Raza said he was aware of the plan used in the previous match by Netherlands' Pieter Seelaar to foil Munsey - putting a deep-backward point in place, which resulted in his dismissal on the second ball of spin he faced, from Colin Ackermann. Raza opted to have his bowlers bowl a cramped line to Munsey's body, not allowing him to free his arms for the shot rather than put in funky fields.

"When someone's hitting that [a reverse sweep] to a fast bowler who is bowling over 135 kph then you can be only in awe of that shot at that point."

UAE captain Ahmed Raza on Munsey

It almost worked in the first over bowled by left-arm spinner Sultan Ahmed with several mis-hits and one ball clanging off Munsey's grill. But by the third over, Munsey had found his timing and sent Sultan twice over the backward-point boundary for sixes. Munsey showed he was equally adept at playing the shot against pace bowling too, audaciously reverse-sweeping Zahoor Khan over third man for six in the 13th over towards the tail-end of his knock.

"We had set plans for that and we've played enough against him," Raza said. "A few of my team-mates have played with him in the GT20 as well so we had our plans. If you look at the first over, he got one hit on the helmet, he got one inside-edge, he hit one over the keeper; so he got lucky with that as well.

"The two boundaries he hit off Sultan in that [third] over, but he didn't reverse sweep until the later stages. He hit one over third man but when someone's hitting that to a fast bowler who is bowling over 135kph then you can be only in awe of that shot at that point."

Coetzer also credited Munsey for providing the scoring options for him at the other end.

With the confusion the shot causes in terms of field settings and trying to cover up gaps, it has made for a fruitful partnership at the top of the order, one which may cause further mayhem 12 months on in Australia.

"George has the ability to find the boundary, possibly easier than some others, during his innings," Coetzer said. "It certainly helps me. We've got a pretty good record as an opening pair. He's got skills which I wish I could have and he helps me along. The partnerships we put on often helps us put the foundation, where George tends to be the main guy causing the destruction."

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