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Feature

Munsey and Watt have a bash as a Scottish fairytale is scripted in Hobart

Scotland's performance against West Indies was the perfect coming together of a team that has played and trained together for a long time

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
17-Oct-2022
Mark Watt returned fantastic figures of 3 for 12  •  ICC via Getty Images

Mark Watt returned fantastic figures of 3 for 12  •  ICC via Getty Images

Cold winds. Jumpers on. Caps being blown off. For much of the evening, it must have felt like Aberdeen more than Hobart to the Scotland players. The blustery conditions must have played a part, but to put Scotland's dominant win over West Indies to just that would be doing great disservice to the skills that were on display.
After all, Scotland are a team that's played just two T20Is between the end of the 2021 T20 World Cup and the start of this one, and on Monday, they bossed a team that has some ferocious ball-strikers, a premier allrounder, and a pace line-up that has played the world over in franchise leagues. That can't be down to the weather alone.
It was George Munsey, who set the pulses racing up top. He flicked disdainfully, pulled without half-measures, hit through the line fearlessly, without worrying about lateral movement, often going downtown like he would on a golf course.
Sixteen years ago, a scholarship at Scotland's Loretto School, which has one of the country's leading golf academies, brought him to the country from Oxford. His dream of representing Scotland at the Ryder Cup may not have materialised, but the bat swing and precision he developed over the years sure helped him hit the ball hard and long.
What if the straight boundaries in Hobart were 81 metres? A combination of timing, brute force, and a big Gray Nicholls bat - the company he works full-time with as a sales representative - helped him dash off the blocks as Scotland raised their half-century in the fifth over, before a rain break.
Munsey can do more. He can take down spinners, play the reverse and switch hits, and can be quite intimidating for bowlers. He's made all this work for long in Associate cricket. The question was if he could do it against the big boys, the Test nations.
Against West Indies, he made an unbeaten 53-ball 66. In many ways, it was an innings of two halves. The first was an uninhibited display of clean hitting and the second was about bringing his experience of knowing he had to overcome pockets of struggle and bat through. At last year's World Cup, he got starts in every innings barring one, but couldn't make more than 29 even once. In one innings this time, he has laid down a marker his team-mates would have to do well to emulate.
If Munsey set the tone, Calum MacLeod and Chris Greaves set up the perfect finish after a bit of a slowdown, one that was down to West Indies going shorter and bowling hard lengths. Greaves has brought with him the reputation of being the team's finisher. He certainly played a key role in delivering only their second World Cup win - in 21 attempts - last year when he shellacked a 28-ball 45 to ignite Scotland's innings against Bangladesh's spin choke, and take them from the depths of 53 for 6 to post 140.
MacLeod was inconsolable four years ago after their 2018 ODI World Cup qualifier against West Indies in Harare when an erroneous lbw call had played its part in denying Scotland a berth at the main event. Here, he ensured his team got the finishing kick. He was reverse sweeping for fun, walking across to hoick length balls into the short leg-side boundaries, and shuffling around to throw bowlers off their marks.
Yet, for all their efforts, it may have not yet come to fruition if Scotland's spin twins had not risen to the occasion. It's quite amazing to think of it, how learning the game in conditions ideal for swing and seam, Scotland have had truckloads of spinners who can turn games around. They aren't just ordinary spinners; they are highly skilled and take great pride in turning in performances repeatedly.
Mark Watt uses his angles superbly with his left-arm spin, varies his trajectories depending on how much bite there is on offer. If batters sit back expecting bad deliveries, they are likely to keep waiting. Watt has an excellent arm ball, one he can deliver from 25 yards out, from well behind the umpire too, as Brandon King found out when he shaped back to cut, only to be beaten for pace.
Michael Leask has a deceptive low-arm trajectory at times, of the kind Kedar Jadhav brought. As a batter, the low point of release can make it a challenge to line him up. And because he also ends up being accurate most times, like he was here, the West Indies batters struggled, especially while going for the big hits. His efforts were timely because West Indies were handily placed at 57 for 2 after seven, and then, poof!
Scotland's performance on Monday was team effort. It was the perfect coming together of a team that has played and trained together for a year, with the arclights far from them. And when it was their turn to showcase those skills with the world watching, they delivered.
Like Namibia, Scotland have shown, more than once, that they are no pushovers. Monday was yet another validation of that.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo