Thursday, July 26, 2007
The Aussie cricketing legends are coming thick and fast this week, and they don’t get much more legendary than Keith Miller, pictured here with Mr Poll outside the MCG stadium. He was a quite superb hard hitting batsman, as well as a fiery opening bowler, and he also played Aussie rules in the state of Victoria. He played 55 Tests for Australia, averaged 37 with the bat and took 170 wickets at 23. But Miller wasn’t bothered by his statistics, as they meant nothing to him. Australia amassed 721 in a single day in a match against Essex in 1948, but Miller wanted no part of such carnage. When his turn came, he did not take guard, allowed himself to be bowled first ball, turned to the wicketkeeper and said: "Thank God that's over."
He was a natural born leader. On one occasion, having omitted to nominate a 12th man, he found himself with 12 players on the field. He observed: "Well, one of you had better bugger off then." Another time, he once arrived to captain for New South Wales still wearing his tux from the previous evening's festivities, and set the field with a single command: "Scatter." Satisfied, he took 7-12 to bowl out South Australia for 27.
Miller was of the view that there was more to life than cricket, however, largely as a result of being a fighter pilot during the Second World War. After duelling with the Germans in his Mosquito one night, he made an unauthorised detour over Bonn because it was Beethoven's birthplace and he was a lover of the classics. That’s extremely cool in my books. He wore his hair long (much like Mr Poll in the photo) in an era when the short back and sides was de rigeur. He enjoyed a drink and a smoke. He loved horses and wanted to be a jockey, but grew to 188 centimetres and became a lifelong punter instead.
Basically, Keith Miller was an all round bona fide fair dinkum Australian geezer. We salute you.
(and, it has to be said a far better bowling imitation by Mr Poll than his feeble Dennis Lillee effort last night)