David Miller given the boot

2013-01-17 00:00

CRICKET can be a strange old game at the best of times.

For the purists, it can be downright baffling. For Dolphins middle-order batsman David Miller, its best described as cruel.

A precocious left-hander with ounces of talent and recognised as a clean hitter of the ball who is not afraid to take the aerial route in compiling runs, Miller has been touted as one of the senior men in the Dolphins’ batting line-up this season.

With Vaughn van Jaarsveld finding his feet in his third season for the team after arriving from the Lions, the Dolphins, on paper at least, looked to have a young, fearless combination that could turn a match and earn some respect from fellow franchises.

That idea has been blown out the window ahead of today’s Sunfoil Series four-day clash against the Cobras at Newlands as the Dolphins take the bold step of dropping Miller from the team. The move ensures he will spend the rest of the week back at Kingsmead, taking on Griqualand West in a three-day Provincial Challenge match, followed by a one-day game.

It could best be described as either a bold move by the Dolphins or in hindsight, it could be just what’s needed for Miller to get his confidence back in the longer form of the game.

Looking at the Dolphins, Miller’s omission stuck out like a sore thumb and while it’s tough for the young talent to bear, it could be a valuable lesson in life and sport, reiterating that no player is bigger than the game.

Miller said: “To put it blankly, I have been dropped from the main squad.

“It’s not where I want to be, but I must accept whatever decisions are made and get on with what’s on my plate. Nothing comes easy in life and this is one of those moments.

“There’s no choice, but for me to say yes; I am playing three-day cricket this week and hopefully I will get my act together and prove I belong in the squad. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but on the positive side, it could be just what’s needed for me to get my game, focus and confidence back on track.”

It’s the equivalent of a pro surfer suffering the embarrassment of being dumped while enjoying a good ride.

Miller, a recognised schoolboy talent while at Maritzburg College, had only one route available for him — a career in cricket.

It took him a few seasons to break into the Dolphins squad as a regular, and now he finds himself picking up some scattered pieces.

At 23, age is his ally and his fighting spirit should carry him over this hurdle. He made his first class debut at only 17 and was seen by Protea selectors as a player who could inject vital urgency into the ODI and T20 squads.

To date, he has played 16 one-day internationals for an average of 29,66 and 11 T20s with an average of 30,57.

Less than a month ago, he was playing for the Proteas in the three T20 matches against New Zealand, where he scored 28 and 33 after not batting in the first game in Durban.

However, while he looks a good prospect at international level, his form in domestic cricket and particularly the four-day game has fallen well short of his capabilities. To date, he has played three matches, batting five times for a return of only 92 runs at 18,40 with a highest score of 41.

By his own admission, this is way below par and playing in the three day format might be a blessing in disguise.

“I need to find my feet and play at the level I know I can. My career is still in its infancy and to go from representing South Africa to not representing your province at the highest level defies logic and is a huge wake-up call.

“The season is far from over and I desperately want to walk out for the senior Dolphins team again, a refreshed player ready to take my game to the next level,” said Miller.

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