Cricket: Blackcaps outcast Colin Munro turns down possible recall to national team for Pakistan tour

These days, Colin Munro’s prioritising family and himself, so much so, he's at his kids' school swimming sports today.

That's not to say he’s turning his back on the Blackcaps, even if he did think his time was done.

"I've always said I haven't retired from international cricket, because World Cups are there or big series that I want to play for,” the big-hitting batter told Newshub.

Colin Munro in action for the Blackcaps.
Colin Munro in action for the Blackcaps. Photo credit: Photosport

NZ Cricket surprised many when it announced Munro had made himself unavailable for the Twenty20 squad to tour Pakistan this week. After all, he hasn’t worn the black cap in four years.

Selector Sam Wells explains Munro's "excellent record" in the Caribbean Premier League has promoted him as an option for the T20 World Cup there in June, particularly in the event of injuries.

After radio silence since pre-COVID times, Munro received what he describes as a surprising phone call from Blackcaps coach Gary Stead earlier this year.

"Steady called me about halfway, three-quarters of the way through the Big Bash League [Australian T20 competition], just asking about my availability for the World Cup," he explained.

"I told him I haven't retired. I'm still available, if you need me."

Munro wasn't available for one particular part of the year - April - which meant no tour of Pakistan.

"Steady took it well," said Munro. "I think he had to, knowing that the relationship probably hasn’t been as good as it could have been in the past. 

"Unfortunately, this tour came at the wrong time. I'd already said to him the whole month of April, I can’t do anything.

"That’s my month to refresh, regenerate, get my body right for another summer or another winter overseas, and just to mentally freshen up too.

"Four months on the road, yes, it sounds luxurious, and you play in all of these competitions and you’re doing well, but it does take its toll mentally and physically as well. The month of April was for me to just take time off and enjoy some family time.

"Whether it makes an impact on World Cup selection, I understand that, but I’ve got to look after myself first in terms of the bigger picture."

With 65 T20Is, 57 ODIs and a lone test to his name, Munro hasn't played for New Zealand since February 2020.

Colin Munro in Big Bash action.
Colin Munro in Big Bash action. Photo credit: Photosport

Since then, he's forged a career as a T20 freelancer, arguably the original New Zealand gun for hire. The likes of Trent Boult and Martin Guptill have since put on their holsters and followed suit.

The passport since 2020 looks like a Contiki of sorts - the Caribbean, Australia and UK, along with more alternative destinations like Pakistan and UAE.

As he's always done with his wide, open stance and, at times, unconventional batting, Munro has done it his way. He was at peace with not playing for New Zealand.

"I thought the opportunity to play for New Zealand cricket was long gone," he said. "I thought the only way there was going to be a way back was if a new coach had come in a year or two ago, who wanted to reshape everything.

"There was a World Cup a couple of years ago and I was playing good cricket then to get an opportunity, and Daryl Mitchell opened the batting. Even though he went well, I can talk about it now, but it was a kick in the teeth.

"[Stead] is the boss, he makes the calls. I've always said I don't have to agree with his decisions.

"It's like anything, but if somebody’s open and honest with me, even if it's not the communication that I want to hear, at least I can have the peace of mind that he's been open and honest with me - even if I don’t agree with it.

"Nine times out of 10, I’m not going to, because I still feel like I’m one of the best players who can dominate in any format - or T20 now."

Colin Munro in Caribbean League action.
Colin Munro in Caribbean League action. Photo credit: Getty Images

Selectors clearly agree, he's a genuine matchwinner, although Munro's well aware he's down the pecking order.

The likes of Devon Conway, Finn Allen and, more recently, Rachin Ravindra are seen as top-order options. Throw in Tim Seifert, Will Young and some bloke called Kane Williamson, and a lot will need to fall his way.

"I say I feel like I should be playing, but it's hard to break into that team. Finn Allen's done nothing wrong.

"Conway, Rachin... all of those boys have done everything they can, so I feel like I'm still a bolter, right outside.

"I still see myself way down the pecking order, but it’s still nice, as a player, to be in consideration and even be spoken about, rather than just forgotten a little bit. This would be my last chance to represent New Zealand again at a World Cup."

If that doesn’t eventuate, Munro concedes, while it’d be a shame to not don New Zealand colours, he’d harbour no ill-feelings towards those selected.

"If that chance doesn’t come, I've made peace with where I'm at and whatever goes, I'll back the boys 100 percent."