Big-hitting David Miller confident he can deliver as he makes Proteas return

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South African batsman David Miller
South African batsman David Miller
Lee Warren/Gallo Images
  • David Miller will be playing his first game for the Proteas since March last year after a bittersweet 2020.
  • The Proteas middle-order batsman is hoping to get back to playing consistently after appearing in only four games post-Covid-19.
  • Miller is confident that he can perform as the Proteas look to hit the ground running in the first of three T20s against Pakistan.

Proteas middle-order batsman David Miller is confident he can get back into the swing of things as he plays his first international match since March last year.

Miller was in the Proteas limited-overs squad late last year that took on England in three T20s and three ODIs.

However, he did not feature in the T20 series with the ODIs postponed due to Covid-19.

He has only played four competitive matches since the global pandemic struck: the 3TCricket Solidarity Cup match, one Indian Premier League (IPL) game for the Rajasthan Royals and two One Day Cup matches for the Dolphins.

Miller will be comforted by his recent appearance in the middle when he made 57 against the Knights in their One Day Cup pool encounter last month.

In the build-up to Thursday's opening T20 against Pakistan, Miller believes that he is well prepared despite his lack of game time.

"I'm very confident. It has been a long time since I've played consistent cricket," he told reporters in Lahore on Wednesday.

"Last year March was my last game against Australia. I've played one IPL game, I played a couple of domestic games so I definitely feel like I'm mentally fresh and ready to go.

"You go into a series with a lot of confidence but we know cricket is a funny game with its challenges. I feel well-prepped and organised and we've given us enough time to give us a chance to know what's happening in Pakistan."

Miller's natural instinct is to attack with the bat in hand and despite slower conditions, the 31-year-old hopes to produce a big-hitting display in Lahore.

"I'm a very sort of feel-type player, I go on instinct and feel," said Miller.

"Whatever I'm feeling on the day and when I feel I'm on top of a certain bowler - it could be a different bowler from game-to-game - I'm going to go with my instinct and back myself to take him down as far as possible."

The T20-side will be led by Proteas wicketkeeper-batsman Heinrich Klaasen and includes plenty of new faces as Okuhle Cele, Ryan Rickleton, Nandre Burger and Jacques Snyman all received their maiden call-ups.

Only Lutho Sipamla, Dwaine Pretorius, Tabraiz Shamsi and George Linde from the Test squad remained in Pakistan for the three-match T20 series.

"When you've got a bit of experience and being secure in my role will help bring a lot of calmness and clarity towards the squad, helping some of the young players in the side and giving them reassurance in their roles," he said.

"On the field, it's all about performances and stepping up. We all do need to perform but it does help when the senior members perform and it takes the team to a different path, which is where we want to go."

Since international cricket got underway, several players have been moving from bubble-to-bubble and have had to follow stringent protocols and restrictions.

Miller admits the challenges of playing during a pandemic and says it's an issue that cannot go on for too long.

"It's something that we're still getting used to. The longer you play this game in a pandemic, the harder it gets I think. It's quite restrictive at times and it can be quite challenging, and it's an area we have spoken about," said Miller.

"Fortunately, this tour is pretty short, there is no need to stress about those kinds of stuff. But I do think the longer it goes on, it'll become quite an issue. It's about sorting things out mentally and finding a place where we can come together as a team and try and address them as quickly as possible."

Following the three-match T20 series, Miller will return to South Africa to participate in the CSA's T20 Challenge in Durban. After the T20 tournament, Miller will then return to Pakistan to make his Pakistan Super League debut for Peshawar Zalmi.

The first T20 between Pakistan and South Africa starts on Thursday at 12:30 SA time.

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