The stage is set for Miller

2014-03-18 00:00

NO one who saw it can forget Dolphins batsman David Miller’s assault on the Titans at Kingsmead early last month in the semi-final of the Ram Slam T20 competition.

Coming in with the Dolphins on 74-2 after 10.3 overs, the 25-year-old cricketer took them to 200-4 less than 10 overs later.

His contribution — an undefeated 93 from 37 balls, with six boundaries and nine sixes. That’s 78 runs in boundaries and he left a path of decimated bowlers in his wake, none more so than spinner Roelof van der Merwe who was hit for 34 in an over, the five sixes not just clearing the boundary, but sailing out the park.

It’s these innings which showcase Miller’s undenying talent, firstly as a batsman and secondly as a clean hitter of the ball, acknowledged by some pundits as one of the best in world cricket.

Now he has the opportunity to perform on one of the grandest stages of all, the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh as he carries the hopes of the country on his mighty willow as a finisher and devastating finisher.

The team have arrived in Bangladesh ahead of their opening match against Sri Lanka in Chittagong on Saturday, but there are two warm up matches on the cards, the first against Bangladesh A today, where Miller can get to grips with conditions and settle down ahead of the real business that lies ahead. He is used to pressure playing for the Dolphins and when quizzed on the subject earlier this season, he said, “It doesn’t worry me. I go out and play my natural game every time, regardless of the situation and if I get in and start hitting the ball well, then I can back myself to have a go.”

And that’s exactly what Faf du Plessis and his Proteas T20 team will be praying for. It’s easier said than done though, the magnitude of the occasion a first for Miller. “Of course there is pressure playing international cricket but I have endeavoured to play as much cricket as possible whenever I can,” he said. “That helps with experience and the decisions you make on the field.”

Since making his debut for the Proteas against the West Indies in 2010, this is Miller’s first time at a World Cup. The pressure must be immense, but the likeable batsman refuses to give too much away. “I enjoy that sort of pressure but what’s important is how you deal with it,” he said.

While expectations from back home are high, again Miller plays down the odds. “Being my first World Cup, it’s a dream come true. For me, it’s about the opportunity and all I can do is give of my best in whatever situation arises. I cannot do better than that,” he said.

Ahead of the match against Sri Lanka, Miller said the Proteas would have to be at their best to go all the way in the tournament. Besides Sri Lanka, there are tricky encounters against England and New Zealand, teams capable of producing the goods on the day. “It’s one step at a time as we go along and for now, the first is today’s warm-up match and the next one. These matches will allow us to adapt to the conditions and the heat and with a few nets thrown in, this preparation ahead of Saturday’s Sri Lanka clash is vital,” he said.

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