David Andrew Miller – born 10 June 1989 in Pietermaritzburg in Kwa-Zulu Natal – is a left-handed batsmen that has represented no less than 22 teams in his career across various formats.
Miller came to be known for his big-hitting and when he walks out to the crease, the term “Miller time” was phrased, as fans would expect the burly middle-order batsman to blast the ball to all parts of the park, often to rescue South Africa from the perils of defeat.
Miller’s highest score of 139 was one such innings, against Australia in Hobart back in November 2018.
With the Proteas batting first and in a spot of bother at 55 for three, Miller and Faf du Plessis (125) put on a magnificent stand of 252 for the fourth wicket to hand the Proteas the advantage.
Miller’s 108-ball innings included 13 boundaries and four sixes against the likes of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Marcus Stoinis. Miller’s ruthlessness along with Du Plessis’ guile helped the South Africans to 320 for five which ultimately led to the Proteas winning by 40 runs.
Miller also smashed 117 not out from 98 balls against Sri Lanka in a 121-run victory in February 2017 along with a 92-ball unbeaten 138 against Zimbabwe at the World Cup in 2015.
But Miller’s most notable innings came on 5 October 2016 in Durban against Australia.
David Warner (117) and Steve Smith (108) had given the Australians a massive advantage batting first, along with Aaron Finch (53) and a quick-fire 35 from Travis Head off just 18 balls which lofted the Aussies to 371 for six.
South Africa, in reply, were struggling along at 179 for four when Rilee Rossouw (18) departed, bringing Miller to the crease to join JP Duminy (20) in the 24th over.
With the Proteas still needing 193 for victory, at a run-rate of 7.33 to the over, and besides for Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo, not much was left in the tank.
Miller bludgeoned 10 boundaries and six maximums from 79 balls to almost single-handedly clinch victory for the Proteas with four balls remaining.
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This is what Miller is remembered for and what is expected from him every time he walks out to the crease.
Some quarters have stated that the only reason that Miller is still in the team is because he is white and that he must be dropped because he is not performing.
Race is a very sensitive topic within cricketing circles at the moment, especially with the SJN Hearings on the go with former non-white cricketers and officials stating their grievances with the cricketing fraternity in how they were treated over the last 20-odd years of cricket unity because of their colour.
But that is another topic all together.
Miller’s last 10 trips to the crease has included four half-centuries, against England, Australia and Pakistan with only one score below 10.
In those 10 innings, he has averaged 65.83 with the 395 runs scored coming off only 381 balls either in the No 5 or No 6 position at the back-end of the innings.
However, with the T20 World Cup in the UAE later in the year, question marks hang over his inclusion in the squad. Miller has not performed as well in the shortest format of the game compared to his ODI exploits.
In his last 20 innings for the Proteas in T20 cricket, he has two half-centuries, a 41, 35* and 25*. Otherwise, all his other scores are below 20.
This is worrying for the Proteas if they are to make a push for their first ICC tournament trophy since 1996 Champions League title.
Miller’s career strike-rate of 138 is not the problem but with someone of his ability, the Proteas will need Miller to be scoring 30’s on a regular basis but perhaps the lack of form from Miller over the last two years is indicative of South Africa’s inability to score good runs at the back-end of a T20 innings, something which was evident against the recent 3-2 series victory over the much more fancied West Indies in their own backyard.
South Africa have no problem making good, solid starts with the likes of Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks and Aiden Markram up front, but Temba Bavuma’s charges are unable to turn those gold nuggets into gold bars when it really counts.
Perhaps it is time for Miller to hang up his T20 hat and let the likes of Kyle Verreynne, Wiaan Mulder and even George Linde take on the mantle of finishers?
Miller’s boundary-count against the West Indies was paltry, with just two fours and a single six from 48 balls. And the wickets being played on in the UAE are very similar to what was played on in Grenada.
There are three T20’s to come against Ireland followed by three more away to India before the World Cup and that does not leave much time for Miller to change his fortunes – or could it?
My opinion – as it was around AB de Villiers being recalled to the Proteas setup – no, time to drop him and let the fresh blood make their mark.
However, the selectors will be in a “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” position because if they select Miller, and he fails, or if they leave him out and South Africa fails, then they will cop a fair amount of criticism.
I say take a bold stand and drop him from the T20 outlook.