Proteas star demonstrates he can be a batsman, not just a basher
South Africans might be surprised to learn that David Miller has faced as many as 4 007 balls in first-class cricket. Or even that he has already played 64 one-day internationals.
Miller? The T20 basher? A proper cricketer? Really? Damn straight.
In fact, after he and fellow centurion JP Duminy guided the Proteas from 83/4 to 339/4 against Zimbabwe in Hamilton on Sunday, Miller could get away with calling himself the king of Albania.
But he will settle for being taken more seriously as a batsman, not a basher.
“I haven’t played as much firstclass cricket as I would have liked to, but I’ve tried to work with what I’ve got,” Miller said.
“I’ve tried to play as much T20 as I can in the off-season, which is the only cricket I’ve been given a chance to play. I’ve been working really hard in the last two years to try and rotate the strike and build an innings.
“To try and take that into four-day cricket would be ideal. These are the things I’ve been working on in the last year-and-a-half for Yorkshire and Durham and in the IPL [Indian Premier League].”
The mad reality of modern cricket is that players who have talent, skill and temperament are more likely to make their name bashing balls as mercenaries in some circus of gratuitousness than proving they can survive and prosper at international level.
Miller has walked those crooked miles. Now he wants to get onto the straight and narrow of performing for South Africa where it counts – in the World Cup.
He first made that intention public when he scored his maiden ODI century, 130 not out, against West Indies at St George’s Park last month.
On Sunday, none of South Africa’s remaining batsmen besides Miller, who made an undefeated 138, would have been able to stay with Duminy for long enough to dig them out of trouble as effectively as they did in their unbroken stand of 256.
Both of Miller’s centuries were founded on maturity rather than muscle.
He batted with the power and aggression he has always wielded, but his strokes have been polished to a new, grown-up sheen. He is a significantly better batsman for that.
“To score my first hundred a couple of games ago and follow up with this one, to come out and do it in my first game in the World Cup, is really satisfying,” Miller said.
His new approach was evident even in a 46th over in which he hammered Solomon Mire for 30 runs. Previously, he might have been rampant. This time, he was respectful – and his reward was the licence to be rampant.
What did Miller plan to serve up when the Proteas clash with an Indian team he will be familiar with from his involvement in the IPL?
“It’s international cricket now. I will try my best to start fresh, to build on what we’ve got. It’s a new game,” he said.