Keith Miller 1919-2004 October 11, 2004

Miller's magic moments

Keith Miller, who died today aged 84, was a barnstorming allrounder who lit up the decade after the Second World War with his performances

181 on first-class debut, 1937-38
Miller was only 66 days past his 18th birthday when he took the field for the first time in a first-class match, for Victoria against Tasmania at the MCG in February 1938. Tasmania weren't in the Sheffield Shield then, and as Victoria had a Shield game in Adelaide the day after this match finished it was very much a second-string side - Miller was one of seven debutants. But he scored 181 in 289 minutes as Victoria made 470. It wasn't the biggest crowd that Miller was to enthrall: the three-day attendance was 864, and the total takings £17.

105 in the first Victory Test, 1945
Miller first made a mark at Lord's with a century in the first of the "Victory Tests", a hastily arranged series to celebrate the end of the Second World War. They weren't official Tests - the Australian side was largely drawn from servicemen who happened to be in the country - but proved very popular. Miller, playing alongside his future Test captain Lindsay Hassett, was the backbone of the Australian first innings of 455, which set up a six-wicket victory.

185 for the Dominions at Lord's, 1945
The end-of-war celebrations concluded with a star-studded side, captained by the old West Indian allrounder Learie Constantine, taking on England at Lord's. The New Zealander Martin Donnelly made 133 in the Dominions' first innings, but it was Miller's 185 that lit up the match - there were seven sixes, and Plum Warner called it the greatest exhibition of batting he ever saw. It gave Miller's side just enough runs to secure victory.

7 for 60 in first Ashes Test, 1946-47
Miller's first Test against England, and after scoring 79 at Brisbane he cut back his pace and moved the ball around on a helpful pitch, for what remained his best Test bowling figures. He removed Len Hutton first ball in the second innings, too, as England crashed to a huge defeat (an innings and 332 runs).

141 not out, 1946-47
In the fourth Test at Adelaide, in unrelenting heat over the 100-degree mark, Don Bradman fell for a duck after England had made 460. Arthur Morris made 122, then Miller stepped up with an unbeaten 141, his first Test hundred. Bruce Harris, a watching British journalist, wrote: "Miller, big and buoyant, is no pleasant batsman to have in opposition at 5.30 of a hot January day in Adelaide." The match was drawn, with both Morris and Denis Compton making centuries in both innings.

109 v England, Lord's, 1953
A restrained, chanceless 109 from Miller at Lord's - Wisden said he "subjugated his natural inclinations" - set up what seemed to be a matchwinning position for Australia. But Trevor Bailey and Willie Watson resisted for four hours on the final day to force a draw. John Arlott observed: "As he has so often done, Miller adopted a particular role in this innings. He has succeeded in turn - and as Australia has needed it most - as attacking or defensive bat, fast bowler or spin bowler, stock or shock, cover or slip fieldsman. This was a faultless hundred ... quite how rare they are is not always appreciated, but I doubt one in five of Test hundreds is made without a chance."

147 v West Indies, 1954-55
Miller kicked off this high-scoring series with 147 at Kingston, which remained his highest Test score. By now batting at No. 4, Miller hit 15 fours and put on 224 with Neil Harvey. He made three centuries in that series, including one in the final Test, also at Kingston, where a record five batsmen scored hundreds as Australia piled up 758 for 8.

281 not out against Leicestershire, 1956
Miller kicked off his third and final tour of England in 1956 with 281 not out in the second match (he didn't play in the first) at Grace Road. "Driving superbly," according to Wisden, Miller hit 35 fours, a six and a five. Peter West watched the innings, and wrote: "Such is his reach - and such the qualities of his wrist and timing - that he can drive, apparently quite effortlessly, the ball which to lesser mortals would be of unimpeachable length."

Ten wickets at Lord's, 1956
Nearly 37, Miller had been hoping to rest his dodgy back in England in 1956. But at Lord's Ray Lindwall was out injured and Pat Crawford, his replacement, broke down. Miller responded with a magnificent bowling effort, taking five wickets in each innings, the only ten-wicket haul of his Test career. Said Wisden of his first-innings display: "Miller, bowling for long spells and moving the ball either way at varying pace, took half the wickets for 72."

102 on debut for Notts, 1959
Miller's last hurrah came in 1959, when he turned out to play for Nottinghamshire as a guest (no overseas players then) in one match against Cambridge University at Trent Bridge. He was nearly 40, but spanked the students for 62 and 102 not out - his hundred came up in 125 minutes, and he clouted 13 fours and two sixes. They were his last runs in first-class cricket - he played for MCC against Oxford University the following week, but pulled a calf muscle and had to retire hurt before he'd scored.

Steven Lynch is the editor of Cricinfo