It’s tough being David Miller

Sunday Times

TELFORD VICE, Franschhoek

DAVID Miller isn’t having the best time. First he sat on the bench for all five one-day internationals England played in SA last season. Then he was sacked as Punjab Kings XI captain after his team lost five of their first six games.

On top of that, he has gone 17 completed innings at any level and in any format without reaching 50. In 10 of those trips to the crease he has been dismissed for fewer than 30.

Which makes it difficult to argue Miller’s case in the wake of him being left out of SA’s squad for a one-day tournament in the Caribbean next month.

Not that Miller himself will be in the mood for an argument, having spent much of the past month losing 5kg and rising from hospital beds around India to play for Punjab.

His father, Andrew, who is also in India, sprang to his son’s defence when social media critics took aim at the left-hander’s performances.

“(It’s) a virus which has been difficult to contain,” Miller senior wrote. “Severe fevers, (painful) joints and a lack of strength, among other symptoms.”

Add that to the reasons Miller will have to be less than cheerful.

“I don’t think he’s ever felt he’s had a secure spot in the side,” Mike Bechet, Miller’s coach at Maritzburg College, said. “It’s important, when you go out to bat, that you’re not looking over your shoulder thinking, ‘Is this my last innings?’.”

The last time South Africans saw Miller play to his potential was on March 4, when he hammered most of the 35 balls Australia’s attack bowled to him to all parts of Kingsmead to score an unbeaten 53 and win the first T20.

But that was an island of excellence in a sea sloshing with mediocrity for a player who, not long ago, seemed able to walk on water – at least in the Neverlands of the Indian Premier League and franchise one-day and T20 cricket.

And therein lies the problem. “He’s been labelled as a guy who can hit the ball out of the park and sometimes that can affect your basics,” Imraan Khan, Miller’s Dolphins teammate until the latter announced his move to the Knights for next season, said.

“Maybe all he needs is to play some four-day cricket and get some runs under his belt. But he doesn’t play a lot of four-day cricket.

“The best practice is in the middle and T20 is such a hustle and bustle that you don’t get much chance to practice.”

Miller played 22 first-class games in the two seasons that spanned his first-class and SA debuts. Since then, over the course of six summers, he has had just 29 matches in whites.

You can maintain an IPL career like that, but nothing more. Knights, are you reading this?


2 thoughts on “It’s tough being David Miller

  1. Hi Telford, your article is interesting but I would like your version of the interpretation of T20 stats. Am I correct in saying that the benchmark for the equivalent of a list A “50” in T20 terms is 30? You correctly say that David has gone 17 innings without scoring a 50 and 10 of those are below 30. By my calculations all 17 of those innings have been in T20 cricket which means that he has made 30 or more every 2.42 innings. That’s a pretty high stat by T20 standards I reckon, given that he averages 14 balls per innings in T20 cricket because of the position that he bats in. I think reporting can be biased when reporting on T20 stats because it’s impossible to score a 50 everytime he bats. Goodness knows Quinton de Kock has only made 1×50 in his T20 career for SA from about 40 games and that is for a player who has a chance of making 50 everytime!! Surely strike rates are what should be highlighted for a batsmen in the middle order and not this fixation on making 50’s because it’s impossible to do it all the time, if at all. Yes the IPL has been disappointing for David (aside from his severe health issues) and he will be the first to admit it but his World Cup T20 (strike rate of 200 – top 5 of all batters in the world and best by a Saffa) and Australian series for SA were spot on. I’m not sure what must be required by a middle order batsmen in T20 cricket anymore? Nothing much he can do about been left out of the ODI squad on back of his best year in international cricket where he was 17th leading run scorer in ODI’s in the world for 2015 with nearly 800 runs at an average of 45 and a strike rate in excess of 100 (2×100’s, 1×50 and 5 scores in the 40’s). The position that he bats in makes him public enemy number 1 when he fails and public hero number 1 when he succeeds…there is no middle ground. But I believe a better interpretation of stats by journalists concerning T20 middle order batsmen and the role they play will give the public a better understanding of the position. This article in Cricinfo below is a good example of the analysis of T20 batting stats which the public rarely see (which I believe should be highlighted more often)
    I would be interested to hear you your views.
    Kind regards
    Andrew Miller

    1. Hello Andrew, and thank you for the response. My view is that the benchmark is as movable as a set of goalposts on wheels. The fact is your son is good enough to score 50 – or more – from far fewer deliveries than other players. We both know this because we have seen it several times. Here’s hoping he will be back to that standard soon.

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