Johnny Morton (www.jmsport.co.uk)
Two days before the opening game of the 2020 season, Carrickfergus announced the signing of Scotland international batsman George Munsey.
The last time Munsey was on these shores, he smashed 127* from 56 deliveries in Malahide against the Netherlands – an innings which remains as the second fastest T20I century (41 balls) while he put on the third-highest T20I partnership with Kyle Coetzer (200 runs).
With competitive cricket not yet returning in Scotland, the 27-year-old was on the search for an opportunity to get back in the middle, and that’s where Carrick came in.
“One of my coaches knows one of the guys at Carrick and they were chatting away,” he explained.
“We aren’t getting a lot of cricket in Scotland at the moment with just being a bit behind everyone else so the opportunity arose from there.
“My coach got in touch saying would I fancy a few games in Ireland and it transpired from there.”
Munsey arrived last Friday ahead of his club debut on Saturday against North Down, where he scored 10 in Carrick’s eight-wicket defeat at The Green.
With Scotland now back in training, Munsey travels across to Northern Ireland ahead of the weekend action before returning to his homeland on a Sunday.
He is set for another two matches this weekend as Carrick travel to Woodvale on Saturday before he gets his first run out at Middle Road when Lisburn visit for a LVS Twenty20 Cup first round clash the following day.
Although only having the chance to play in one game so far, Munsey is impressed by the standard and has been welcomed by his new team-mates.
“It was really good,” he said of his first experience of NCU cricket.
“The guys at Carrick have been awesome. It’s a lovely club and it’s great to be apart of it. I’ve certainly been made to feel welcome.
“The Irish boys are obviously away now so I get to see what club cricket is like here without them.
“The standard has certainly been impressive and so are the facilities.”
Munsey’s arrival got a lot of local cricket fans enthused to watch his exploits and they should get that opportunity this weekend with the news that supporters are allowed to be present at matches.
With all that excitement surrounding his presence in the league, does it bring any extra pressure when it comes to performing on the field?
“I think I always feel the pressure going out to bat because it only takes one ball to knock your stumps out of the ground,” he added.
“It’s another opportunity to get out, play some cricket and more importantly to have some fun at a new club.”
Munsey had helped Scotland qualify for the 2020 Twenty20 World Cup in Australia which was set to get underway in October, but due to the coronavirus pandemic the tournament has been pushed back to next year.
While a bitter blow to have to wait for such a big opportunity, Munsey is looking to stay ready for whatever happens in the rest of this unpredictable year.
“It’s obviously tough for everyone that qualified for the World Cup that it isn’t going ahead this year,” he said.
“A lot of teams were in a really good place and certainly Scotland were building along nicely.
“There are bigger things going on in the world at the moment and we just have to prepare for whatever is next.
“The calendar is still open and in the air so we are staying ready for anything.”