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Hero, headliner, heartthrob

Perhaps cricket's first pin-up, Miller's game was marked by flair, devil-may-care insouciance, and awareness always that it was all just a game

David Frith

October 18, 2010

Comments: 39 | Text size: A | A

Keith Miller, January 12, 1946
Keith Miller: cricket's Errol Flynn © PA Photos
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Allrounder : The golden 'Nugget'
Players/Officials: Keith Miller
Teams: Australia

There has never been a more glamorous cricketer than Keith Miller: not even Imran Khan. Miller's entry into the field generated every kind of symptom of crowd excitement. His stride was that of the catwalk. His sleek hair anticipated Elvis by some years. And his flashing smile showed admirers and adversaries alike that he was delighted to be there, privileged to be enjoying himself in the cause of entertainment. He was looking forward to swinging his bat, banging down a bouncer, or plucking a catch out of nowhere. From being bewitched by Gary Cooper and Errol Flynn some nights on the big silver screen, we watched Keith Miller, their cricketing personification, on sunlit days at the Sydney Cricket Ground. And just as it was futile to aspire to be a Cooper (whose voice was so like Miller's) or a Flynn (whose grin was like his, and whose swordplay seemed the Hollywood equivalent of Miller's strokeplay), so it was only a foolish boy who aspired to emulate the dashing Miller.

Miller was a cricketer of moods, ever responsive to a challenge but bored by stalemate, sometimes impatient, keen to make things happen, chivalrous in both victory and adversity. He was one of those players whom it would be wrong to judge by statistics, impressive though his were. He was strikingly Australian in physique and in his friendly openness; insouciant, modest, never forgetting a name (unless, sometimes, when addressing one of his four sons). But as Len Hutton, one of his greatest adversaries, cautioned, it was not wise to hit Keith for four: better to run him away for singles. Hutton was forever bewitched by Miller's unpredictability. In one over there might be a wicked bouncer off three paces, an innocuous half-volley, and then a googly. He never bothered measuring out a run-up.

Though Miller was born in Sunshine, Victoria, and in the late 1930s he was both star cricketer and Aussie Rules footballer in Melbourne, home for most of his life was Sydney. Born on November 28, 1919, Keith Ross Miller was named after the Smith brothers, who had then recently completed their epic flight from England to Australia. He attended Melbourne High School, where former Test captain WM Woodfull taught. Miller was later to claim unashamedly that he had only ever read one book in his life: MA Noble's The Game's the Thing. His early ambitions were directed towards the racetrack, but in his teens Miller shot up to six feet, and instead of becoming a jockey he reverted to a compulsive pursuit of punting. How the British papers loved those pictures of him at Ascot, complete with top hat and tailcoat.

There was just time, before hostilities began in 1939, for Miller to make his first-class debut, and a spectacular entrance it was. In February 1938, when he was only 18, he hit 181 for Victoria against Tasmania at the MCG. His outstanding potential was emphasised with a further century against Don Bradman's South Australia (with cunning old spinner Clarrie Grimmett bowling). But when he joined the Royal Australian Air Force he had bowled no more than 56 balls in first-class cricket. It was not until he burst onto the scene at Lord's in the matches played by the Australian Services XI towards the end of the war and in the "Victory Test matches" of 1945 that his power with the bat and his potential for rattling batsmen with raw pace and sharp bounce off a short run-up were fully revealed.

"What does this chap bowl?" England's Denis Compton enquired of the Australian Services wicketkeeper Stan Sismey. The keeper thought him a change bowler who might be a bit quick. Flight Sergeant (later Flying Officer) Miller's first ball, released after a short gallop, a shimmy of the shoulder, and a fast sweep of the arm, whistled past Compton's head - the first of many such deliveries to somebody who became a great friend. Nor would spectators ever forget Miller's hurricane innings of 185 for The Dominions, during which a blow into the highest reaches of the Lord's pavilion narrowly missed commentator Rex Alston.

When Ashes cricket was resumed in 1946, Miller - drawn to Sydney by employment first as a liquor salesman and then with the Sun newspaper - was among the Australians who, aided by timely heavy rain mixed with tropical sun, destroyed England by an innings and 332 runs in Brisbane. Having begun his Test career earlier that year in the fiasco against New Zealand, when Australia won on a wet Wellington pitch in one and a half days, he marked his debut against England with 79, batting at No. 5, and then taking 7 for 60 with a certain reluctance on that treacherous surface. While Bradman urged him on, he winced every time one of his slowed-down full-length balls crashed into Bill Edrich's ribs or knocked Cyril Washbrook's cap off or inflicted another bruise on 43-year-old Wally Hammond. Miller could not free his mind of the fact that these fellows had so recently been in uniform on the same side as him.

He stroked the first of his seven Test centuries in the Adelaide match, and after a moderate series against India he took a prominent part in the never-to-be-forgotten 1948 tour of England, when Bradman's dream of completing his final tour without losing a match was duly fulfilled. And that series is remembered as much as anything for the fiery Lindwall-Miller opening attack, energised as it was by the nonsensical 55-overs new-ball regulation. Miller's cascade of bumpers at Trent Bridge in the first Test worked the spectators into a frenzy, still mindful as they were of the authorities' punishment of their own Notts fast-bowling favourites, Harold Larwood and Bill Voce, 15 years earlier. It was probably the only time in his life that the popular Miller was booed and jeered. He merely laughed, rolled his sleeve up and bucked into his next delivery. In terrible light, his bosom friend Compton fell into his stumps, having scored 184. The two were soon sharing a drink.

Miller's damaged back prevented him from bowling in the Lord's Test, and he took only 13 wickets in that series while Ray Lindwall and Bill Johnston took 27 apiece. But Miller's animated presence always placed him centre stage.

 
 
A rebellious, mischievous and sometimes contrary streak about Miller's psyche often belied a sentimental nature. This was the man who diverted his aircraft miles off course after a bombing raid so that he could get an aerial view of Beethoven's birthplace
 

Miller's relationship with Bradman was unusual. In the fullness of time he wrote and uttered much praise for his Test captain. But he was one of those close to The Don who were irritated by aspects of his nature. The 1948ers were mainly new boys, who demonstrated an almost humble respect for their 39-year-old skipper. Not Miller. He unceremoniously tossed the ball back to his captain, saying he thought he'd already made it clear that his back was too painful.

In Bradman's final season Miller mischievously bounced him, causing the most highly worshipped of cricketers to fend for his life. When the Australia side to tour South Africa in 1949-50 was announced, the name of the world's No. 1 allrounder, KR Miller, was missing. Whenever the matter came up in later years Bradman would calmly state that he was only one of the selectors.

Miller was flown to South Africa when Johnston was injured in a car accident, and although his Test performances were unexceptional, the spectators, who had heard so much about him, were at least belatedly satisfied. Then came the 1950-51 Ashes series, for which he warmed up with 214 for New South Wales against the touring team. For him the Test series sprang to life in the third Test, when he got his name on the afternoon newspaper placards with a dazzling catch at slip to dismiss Washbrook, to go with the wickets of Hutton, Reg Simpson and Compton (0). This was followed by one of his more cautious centuries as Australia built a big lead off an injury-ridden England attack. Mystery bowler Jack Iverson stole the closing honours with 6 for 27, but Miller was rehabilitated, a fact celebrated with 99 in the next Test, at which point a Doug Wright googly and his own bat synchronously crashed into the stumps. Again that toss of the head and broad smile.

The slap of the bat onto the turf as he late-cut was a trademark shot, as distinctively Miller's as the bold off-drive or the slightly awkward full-stretch defensive, when his hair would splash over his forehead. He (we as well) was fortunate in that his grandest stroke, the stand-up cut-drive, was captured for all time by the camera in 1950. The picture graced the office wall of Australia's cricket-loving prime minister Robert Menzies, who said that contemplating it "refreshed" him.

Australia's domination of world cricket continued through home series against West Indies and South Africa, with Miller returning a century here and a five-for there, always seemingly the core of the side. Arthur Morris, Lindsay Hassett and Neil Harvey usually preceded him to the crease, and Lindwall and he automatically took the new ball, supported by Johnston's whippy left-arm. But Miller was never to escape the back pain, and bowled less than the others, though he still took key wickets and catches at slip.

He became captain of New South Wales in 1952-53, and the Sheffield Shield was won by his adopted state three times in the four years in which he was leader. Later in life he reflected ruefully that despite those honours there wasn't even "a bit of graffiti" bearing his name at the SCG - though the MCC honoured him in 1993 by commissioning an oil portrait of him for the Long Room at Lord's.

Miller was never entrusted with the captaincy of Australia. The Australian board have always preferred the "safe" captain, the establishment man. Miller was incurably outspoken and unpredictable. Hassett's successor was Ian Johnson, and only when Johnson was forced from the field in the West Indies in 1955 was Miller permitted to act as Test captain. In that short span he brought a dynamism to proceedings that spotlighted what Australia might have forsaken.

His peculiarities as NSW captain sometimes compromised his reputation. "One of you **** off, then!" he called out when one of his players whispered that he hadn't appointed a 12th man and they had one too many in the field. "Scatter!" he cried whenever the youngsters looked to him for directions in the field. And he often arrived late. Once, in 1955, he forgot to collect Peter Philpott, so he swung the car around as if it were a free-flying Mosquito, roared back to the North Shore to get his young team-mate, and eventually screeched into the SCG players' car park as the umpires were taking the field. Miller had hardly slept that night, having been celebrating the birth of another son. His head was hurting. He even forgot to put his socks on. South Australia were bowled out before lunch for 27, a record Shield low, Miller 7 for 12, though he would struggle forever afterwards to recall either his figures or the names of his victims.

His second tour of England, in 1953, when England memorably regained the Ashes at The Oval, found Miller in an ageing side in which some immature allrounders were finding things difficult on damp, unprotected pitches. He had a mediocre series, apart from a greatly relished century that set up Australia's second innings in the pulsating "Watson-Bailey" drawn match at Lord's, a ground that, with his wartime matches in mind, Miller always insisted was his spiritual home.

When Hutton's conquering 1954-55 side toured Australia, Miller's powers seemed to be on the wane. He was forced to miss the second Test - "Tyson's match" - in Sydney because of fluid in the knee. And yet while his highest score in the series was only 49 in Brisbane, twice with the ball he stamped his name on a match, even though both were lost. On the first morning in Melbourne, the England batsmen found him almost unplayable. His spell was 3 for 5 in nine eight-ball overs, eight of them maidens. Then in Adelaide, when England needed 94 to secure the Ashes, Miller got rid of Hutton in his first over, Edrich in his second, and Colin Cowdrey in his third, causing Hutton to shake his head slowly and say, "The booger's done us." Compton could only protest: "Hang on, Len, I haven't batted yet!" When Miller dived to catch Peter May in the covers it was 49 for 4 and Englishmen everywhere were chewing their fingernails. But the tumble had damaged Miller's shoulder, and England got home. Such was the power and swagger of Miller's personality that until that injury - even though England's target was small - it was not Hutton alone who feared that all was lost.

Miller was 35 and nursing repetitive physical problems when he had his best series. On Australia's maiden tour of the West Indies he scored three Test centuries and took 20 wickets. It was almost as if he wanted to make absolutely sure that he would go to England for a third tour, a hope secured by a good 1955-56 domestic season, when he averaged 70 with the bat and 14 with the ball.

The 1956 venture was one that Australia has ever since wished to forget. Confronted by Jim Laker (46 wickets), Miller was as bewildered as anybody, most notably at Old Trafford, where 19 of Laker's wickets were harvested. At Lord's, Miller had done his favourite ground proud, with 10 wickets to put Australia one-up. It was the tourists' only victory of the series, but the Australian hero, object of as much female as male adulation, stamped that match flamboyantly as his own. As the players left the field, he lifted the bails from the umpire's pocket and tossed them as souvenirs into the mass of applauding spectators.

Miller's final Test was as unsatisfactory as his first in Wellington 11 years previously. In Karachi, Pakistan won their inaugural Test against Australia, only 95 runs being eked out of the matting surface on the first day, when Australia went down for 80. Soon after retirement Miller returned to Pakistan to play in a flood-relief match, pointedly upholding his country's pride after several current Test players had declined to go.

He turned out for Nottinghamshire while in England in 1959, and scored 62 and 102 not out against Cambridge University.


Keith Miller on the attack, Australians v Duke of Norfolk XI, Arundel, April 28, 1956
Miller was ever responsive to a challenge but bored by stalemate © PA Photos
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Of all the women in his life, the one who mattered most by far was Margaret Wagner, the tolerant "Peggie" from Boston, Massachusetts, whom he met on his journey to Britain during the war. They married in 1946, and it was a source of shock and sadness to their friends when the two separated early in the new century after so many years together. Peggie died in 2003, and Keith, having returned at last to Melbourne, then married a friend of long standing. The following year saw him at the MCG - confined to a wheelchair - unveiling a statue of himself as a bowler. Appropriately the statue is larger than life.

A rebellious, mischievous and sometimes contrary streak about Miller's psyche often belied a sentimental nature. This was the man who diverted his aircraft miles off course after a bombing raid so that he could get an aerial view of Beethoven's birthplace; the man who would terrify one batsman after another through the afternoon only to spend the evening humming classics with the delicate and sensitive Neville Cardus; the man who, having listened to his captain, Johnson, firing up the Australians in the dressing room by pledging to regain the initiative tomorrow with his offspin, would retort: "Ten-to-one says you won't!" This was the man who once hit the first ball of the day for six in a Test match, and who, when confronted by Dennis Lillee, fuming at what Miller had just written about him, just laughed and said to the younger man, "Don't take any notice of that. I'm paid good money to write all that s***."

The more striking a young man's elan and image, the tougher it must be to endure the privations of the later years. In this, Keith Miller was surely cricket's Dorian Gray.

David Frith is an author, historian, and founding editor of Wisden Cricket Monthly. This article was first published in Wisden Asia Cricket magazine in 2004

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Posted by Yagga175 on (October 21, 2010, 11:27 GMT)

CLR James said it best "What do they know of cricket who only cricket know". Miller's experiences as a young man in 1930s derpresson-era Australia and as a pilot made him the man and, the cricketer and all-round sportsman that he was. There is no doubt that he was the most charismatic Australian cricketer of his generation - a man with the common touch, unlike Bradman, but also able to walk with Kings. More importantly, he had an exceptional knowledge of the game (as contemporaries like Benaud and Davidson attest) was a superb NSW captain and should have led Australia . He led by example and his players did not want to let him down. Gideon Haigh's book The Summer Game attests to the influence and respect that he had throughout his playing years.

He was a hard competitor like all Aussies but he was also magnanimous and gracious. PM Menzies may well have said that Bradman had the intellectual capacity to be PM of Australia but it was Miller whose portrait hung on his office wall!

Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (October 20, 2010, 4:40 GMT)

I still maintain that this is a poorly written article and doesn't do justice to the player it is supposed to highlight. Well, that's my view, but of course everybody here is entitled to set their own standards. That said, the moderation standards of cricinfo suck, giving a free reign to trolls who attack the poster than the points made.

Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (October 20, 2010, 4:34 GMT)

There's a lovely "life and times" type of article on Keith Miller in wiki. Suggested read.

Posted by waspsting on (October 19, 2010, 18:37 GMT)

Disagree with the video part which talked about how batsmen attacked Miller more because Lindwall was so steady. Look at their economy rates - Miller might have been more unpredictable - but certainly not of the style which encouraged batsmen to attack him. Statham and Trueman fit more into that mode. Miller's bowling figures him as one of very best - up there with the Hadlee's, Lillee's, holding's and Imran's - though he probably underperformed with the bat at test level, he was still a dangerous customer. Second only to Imran as a bowling-allrounder, well ahead of botham, kapil and hadlee. maybe Procter could match those two.

Posted by ram5160 on (October 19, 2010, 12:49 GMT)

Maybe, cricinfo should try to get an archive done of various photos of all these greats. It would really be fascinating to browse through.

Posted by ram5160 on (October 19, 2010, 12:47 GMT)

The pictures accompanying these articles are so fascinating. They look so much more dashing and romantic than the present day ones. Maybe the absence of the helmet helps. The gloves Miller's wearing are interesting too. I also loved the picture of Gavaskar's straight drive with his curly hair flapping about and the textbook perfection of it. So too Kapil in his jump.

Posted by Biggus on (October 19, 2010, 11:04 GMT)

@Pramatha-thanks for helping a little to help restore some of my faith in the Indian cricket purveyor. You know, I play with a whole bunch of Indians in my cricket team here in Oz and I find it hard to square the relationship that myself and the other Aussies in the club have with these cool guys against the apparent character of these obsessive SRT nuisance trolls. I'm really starting to worry about the future of the game if these people are the standard bearers of the new India. I'm sure you understand that we know Sachin is a great player, we're just sick to death of his fan club. I have addressed myself to you because you seem like a reasonable man who will give credit where credit is due. I'm beyond caring about this other guy. Cheers mate!

Posted by pramatha on (October 19, 2010, 10:58 GMT)

And now TheOnlyEmperor wants to defend himself by talking about Sachin and the Aussie reaction to him. Has suddenly dried up on all other fronts. Says nothing anymore about Tests being the only criterion. Says nothing about the points made about setting the context, and the effect a player had on cricket, the crowds, and on the collective imagination. And doesn't tell us where the rules he has quoted (for writing articles on the legend series) are written up. Oh they can be deduced it seems. Not by me. I deduce quite the opposite. (And before I am tarred as an Aussie, I am Indian, and a Sachin fan to boot. Does that mean, Emperor sir, I cannot also admire Ponting, Miller, or regard Don as the greatest?)

Posted by BillyCC on (October 19, 2010, 10:05 GMT)

TheOnlyEmperor, all your posts have been an errata. No need to clarify just one. 49 in 170 vs 29 in 52. Learn to handle the facts please. After all a wise person once said, "Stats help in comparing performance, so learn to handle it".

Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (October 19, 2010, 8:44 GMT)

I see it's the Aussies who repeatedly get riled at the mere mention of Sachin. Look at their responses here, for evidence. ( There's one even daring to compare Sachin's 49 with the Don's 29). After all, didn't a washing machine get chucked down from the 8th floor of the CWG village by the Aussies in "spirited excitement" after Sachin scored a 200? Errata : I meant First Class matches and not ODIs, in my first two points of my previous post.

Posted by pramatha on (October 19, 2010, 8:29 GMT)

Read TheOnlyEmperor's latest defence. Where are the rules put down for the legends series (only Tests, and nothing else)? Grace is a legend. And can we understand Ranji only through Tests? Ranji is not a legend? Anyway, cricinfo wisely doesn't play by the odd rules the Emperor hath laid down. As for Sachin--- I am great fan of his (hey I am Indian) but bringing him up here was pointless. The guy who wrote for Sachin could sure have spoken about his bad back and tennis elbow. Why not? Surely it sets the context. Equally (and I am very glad Frith dwelt on this) the fact that Miller had very bad back, and performed heroically needs to be told. Miller was a very important part of what made post-war cricket up until the modern era what it was. And Frith conveys that very very well. The effect he had on the collective imagination of cricket followers is one of the many streams that made cricket

Posted by BillyCC on (October 19, 2010, 8:18 GMT)

Alfredmynn, totally agree with what you say about this series on the Legends of Cricket. Series like these help us preserve the memory of great players and gives us a context to judge current players and current generations. I only found out about it recently, and missed the first few months of it. Also agree with your comment about Alan Davidson, who had an extraordinary bowling average but didn't take the 200 wickets required to get on the usual list that most spectators see.

Posted by BillyCC on (October 19, 2010, 6:29 GMT)

TheOnlyEmperor, I'm very glad we come to an agreement based on your last post. Specifically, you say: "Stats help in comparing performance, so learn to handle it". I'm very pleased that you agree officially that Bradman is 1.8 times a better batsman than Tendulkar (bad back, tennis elbow and all). Learn to handle this fact, please.

Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (October 19, 2010, 4:33 GMT)

@Comments directed AT me: 1. We are talking of Tests and Test statistics and not ODI performance even for those covered after the 1970 era, so the framework, even though not explicitly stated is Tests. 2. The cricinfo stats analysis of the player, that supports the legend article, also picks up Test info only, so it's clear to all those not intellectually challenged that cricinfo also uses Test as the framework. 3. If a player has had bad backs, tennis elbows, marital problems or fought the war, then that's too bad, BUT don't mix all that with cricket. As I said, cricket is about what was achieved and not about what a player could have been. This is not a fantasy piece, so much for "nakedness". 4. It's clear, the very word Sachin gets to some of you and you miss the point made. 5. Stats help in comparing performance, so learn to handle it. 6. Lastly, I think it is in poor taste of cricinfo to allow comments that attack another poster under the garb of countering the points.

Posted by redneck on (October 19, 2010, 4:13 GMT)

gee india get number 1 in tests, and all of a sudden their all experts in who is and who isnt a legend??? and is this site cricinfo or sachinworship? you guys do realise cricket was played before sachin made his debut? and some who came before were actually pretty good at the sport in their own right! or is it that india just sucked back then so you guys dont have any interest in that era? either way, the very same arrogance you always acuse us aussies of having is coming out of you guys in droves! i mean you dont see aussies going onto an article about kepil dev and writing how much better ricky ponting is on it? so why does sachins name have to keep coming up in every comments section in every article! your not doing your hero any favors by doing so! i for 1 would love to read an article about the don or in this case keith miller and read comments by people about that player and not have to weed through the irrelevent sachin worshiping crap in between the intelligent comments!

Posted by alfredmynn on (October 19, 2010, 3:17 GMT)

The thing I like the most about Legends of Cricket is seeing old cricketers reminisce about their heroes. It was fantastic to hear the views of Chappell, Greig, Stackpole, Benaud and others on the legendary Miller. David Frith of course is also a legend in his own right. BTW, who else agrees with me that Alan Davidson is a great asset to this series? He's statistically one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time and the wealth of experience he brings is almost unmatched. The short appearance of the Don himself in some of these episodes is thrilling as well. Cricket is all about history and respect for the pioneers of the game. Sometime during our own lives most of these legends will pass on into history, and series like these are all we'll have to remember their exploits.

Posted by Meety on (October 19, 2010, 2:24 GMT)

@ram5160 - oops! I meant KRM - LOL, probably being ticked off that I fely I had to respond about another SRT nutter! @Biggus - too true. I like the way you gentrified the quote about a german "on his tail" - I believe he made references to a part of your body the sun don't shine. @Kbowser - well said. @TheOnlyEmperor re: your response, mate it is not just Aussies that have a high opinion of the man. Have a look at the comments here - they are of all nationalities. Your second point is WRONG! The scope is NOT restricted to Tests. Your first point is correct that it is about Legends of the game. Legend encompasses far more than statistics. For example Zaheer Khan & Kapil Dev are statistically very average bowlers. Without doubt IMHO Dev is a legend, & Zaheer will probably finish that way too, but that will not be evident in any statistical analysis of their careers. You obviously don't get this, so just go back to your cricinfo stats guru & keep fantasing over SRT!

Posted by   on (October 19, 2010, 1:46 GMT)

@TheOnlyEmperor: The read the title..."Legends of Cricket", not "Greatest Test Players", nor "Test Players With the Best Statistics". The term legend is all encompassing, including their record, what they brought to the game (all cricket, I see nothing that limits this to purely Test Cricket), and the romance. Miller more than qualifies on all counts. So do players like W.G. Grace (if he's already been covered in this series I missed it), who if you look at their Test records alone do not qualify. But seriously who in their right mind would argue that W.G. Grace is not a Legend of Cricket? So is Tendulkar, and when the time comes I would hope his article covers not just his Test record, but also his boyhood records and the effect he has had on the cricket viewing public, all of which are part of his legend!

Posted by pramatha on (October 19, 2010, 1:06 GMT)

Not sure what TheOnlyEmperor is talking about. Test career only? So what happens to Grace? Yes I know he had a Test career, but well past his prime. And according to TheOnlyWhatever (does he wear clothes?) we should not be interested in the setting or the context. What made (to take another example) Trumper a legend? How was he viewed in his times? It seems to answer this with anything other than a severe analysis of his Test record is churn out a puff piece. We, it seems, should never know (or at least not in non-puff airy-fairy pieces) what the crowds felt or saw when the oldies turned on their magic in their times. Frith wrote well on "Australian in excelsis" (to give Cardus's unforgettable description of Miller). Oh I forget, Frith made one error. He didn't pepper his article with "Sachin is great" every other line. How then can Frith's article be taken seriously? So sayeth the Emperor. The only one it seems ;-)

Posted by ram5160 on (October 18, 2010, 16:59 GMT)

Damn, cricketers now a days are just walking PR machines. Wish some of the present day personalities had some of this guy's spirit. @ Meety, why do you call him KRT? Certainly not his initials ? M and T are pretty far away on the keyboard too.

Posted by CricketPissek on (October 18, 2010, 16:10 GMT)

TheOnlyEmperor's new clothes.. your naked narrow-mindedness is for all to see. it's legends of cricket, not legends of test cricket. Keith Miller was an absolute legend. je ne sais quoi is not only a foreign phrase, but also a foreign concept to you from the sounds of it. Also, actually, there was a lot of mention about Tendulkar's tennis elbow when he was suffering from it. However, that doesn't mean anyone or any record book will ever devalue him. He deserves MUCH better fans than yourself.

Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (October 18, 2010, 14:26 GMT)

@ All who addressed me: 1. This is supposed to be a write up on legends, not a magazine piece to spice up with stuff from the anecdotal to the personal life. 2. Yes, the scope of the article is restricted to Tests, so as to maintain consistency in letting people know that he deserves a place amongst the legends of other countries, so talking about First Class cricket is definitely out. 3. If the author hasn't found material that brings out the player's Test "greatness", it speaks a lot about the article as well as the player. 4. I don't see any reason why a mere mention of SRT in my comment should get people riled up. THAT point, was about the injuries and bad backs. A player is ULTIMATELY evaluated on the legends pedestal, based on what he did and not on what "could have been", which is simply cult worship according to me. 5. Just bcos the Aussies think SOMEBODY is great, doesn't AUTOMATICALLY qualify ANYBODY to be a legend. 6. My points were suggestions to improve article QUALITY!

Posted by   on (October 18, 2010, 14:26 GMT)

I believe Miller and Imran are equals as bowling allrounders-Imran has a mediocre bowling record against Australia in Australia whilst on all other surfaces awesome-both awesome cricketers

Posted by 2929paul on (October 18, 2010, 14:22 GMT)

David Frith's a master cricket writer, not a statistician who writes cricket articles. That's why he's one of the best of all time. This article shows how to bring a cricketer to life through words and brings much more than any statistical comparisons ever can. I always look forward to Frith's writing as he gives you the flaws as well as the genius in his subjects. Numbers might put Kallis above a lot of all-rounders but to me all-rounders need to fit the Miller, Sobers, Botham, Imran, Kapil, Flintoff moulds. None of them perfect, some of them "greats", some of them "legends" but all with something that numbers cannot define. They made you want to watch them.

Posted by absha1 on (October 18, 2010, 14:20 GMT)

@TheOnlyEmperor - Where did SRT come into this article? And why the sniping regarding glamour? Personally, SRT is a boy scout. Some of us can't relate. We like our Miller's, Imran's and Richards' because they are a bit macho - they have lived life fully. Sorry, but that's it. Deal with it.

Posted by Truemans_Ghost on (October 18, 2010, 13:15 GMT)

Biggus, Tova, Meety, Bowser and others we should think ourselves lucky. We love cricket, whch is ultimately a far more rewarding experience than merely adoring Tendulkar, no matter how deserving he is.

Posted by Tendulkars_Tennis_Elbow on (October 18, 2010, 12:59 GMT)

Lovely lovely piece. Your adulation shines through.

Posted by Dhaanu on (October 18, 2010, 12:29 GMT)

@TheOnlyEmperor Why is it that Sachin devotees like you have to troll on any and every opinion piece and compare it with what is written on Tendulkar? This is an opinion piece for God's sake. And a beautiful one at that capturing the awe and respect Miller's contemporaries and future generations had for him.

Nice article Mr. Firth. Such great literature only enhances the entire cricket experience.

Posted by   on (October 18, 2010, 10:53 GMT)

One of the best articles I have read about probably the most charismatic cricketer ever...I wish there were a few more cricketers like him to day which would make cricket exciting...Well Done Mr. Frith

Posted by Dannov747 on (October 18, 2010, 10:27 GMT)

Miller was definately the best allrounder by the time he retired, and I think only Sobers and Imran are better than him. I mean look at that FC average! Batting average 49, bowling 22!

Posted by Meety on (October 18, 2010, 10:09 GMT)

Also @ Emperor - the "glamour quotient" is evident in so much that is written about modern sportstars, it was an integral part of his persona. KRT was a fighter pilot in the war, & was pretty much a crowd pleaser much in the same way Freddie Flintoff or Andrew Symonds were - only 10 times better. KRT is in my World XI, just shading Sobers & Khan because of his bowling strike power, as well as being a dangerous batsmen, and arguably the best slips fielder ever. @manasvi_lingam - true regarding KRTs stats. Most knowledgable Aussies automatically select him in an all-time test Oz XI. I think there are only 3 all rounders in a class of their own & you mentioned them - Sobers, Khan & Miller. To me Kallis is prolific rather than great - he is really a great batsmen who bowls at a top quality standard, (you could throw in he is one of the best slips fielders ever). Botham had a short prime & petered out over his career. Anyway Oz still haven't found a replacement for him - 60yrs later!!!!!

Posted by Tova on (October 18, 2010, 9:58 GMT)

Hey TheOnlyEmporer, this is an article on Kieth Miller. Nothing to do with Sachin Tendulkar. Why don't you keep your Tendulkar comments to articles on him...

Posted by Meety on (October 18, 2010, 9:56 GMT)

@TheOnlyEmperor - very dissappointing to see a typical SRT fan making writing a comment about SRT in a totally unrelated article. SRT is a great of the game. But this is an article on KEITH MILLER. To inform you of your queries 1) KRT's career has mention of his 1st class career for many reasons; 1. WWII took away potentially 8 years of test matches (probably his prime) 2. 1st Class cricket particularly in Oz was the closest thing to Test matches outside of Tests, Oz only had 4 1st Class teams back then, so the quality was very high. 3. During the WWII gap there was a few matches that were played that possibly could be argued as being of Test standard (much the same as the Super Tests during Packers WSC). On the point regarding injury. 1. KRT was a strike bowler, so a back injury is limiting in what can be done - just ask Shane Bond. 2. The Don almost died on several occasions due to ill health & a newspaper once ran a headline saying he had died back in the late 1930s

Posted by KBowser on (October 18, 2010, 8:45 GMT)

@TheOnlyEmporer - re your point 1 : what made you think that? I didn't realise that there had to be a formula to these articles. In any event before the 80s, players didn't get to play tests each year and so when they were in form it was not as if they could play 15 tests in a year to take advantage. First class cricket in Australia has always been tough and is relevant to the Miller story. Re point 2 - Sachin's back problems might be relevant to an article about him, but this article isn't about him is it? What is your point? Miller was an allrounder and so he needed to bowl, and was hampered at times. Buddy, this is a story about the life and times of a great cricketer. Just because someone is saying he is great doesn't mean that other people aren't great. Just because Miller was a war hero and flew fighter planes over Germany doesn't mean that other great cricketers are cowards because they didn't fight in a war. As for Point 3 - if you can't understand then this is your issue.

Posted by Biggus on (October 18, 2010, 8:26 GMT)

@TheOnlyEmperor-If you are the sort of guy who only values pure numbers then I guess you might think Miller is over-rated. On the other hand if you value dash and a devil-may-care attitude you'd tend to think he was marvellous. Hard headed rationalist or cricketing romantic? I certainly fall into the latter category. For this reason people like me value Viv Richards above his pure statistics, and it's also the reason my childhood cricketing heroes were Doug Walters and Gary Gilmour (Gary who?). For me sports and cricket in particular are meant to be fun, but for a growing number cricketing success is identified with national greatness which seems silly to me as the fans crow about their idol's achievements as if they were their own. If you are a true cricket fan colour, creed or nation mean nothing. Once asked about pressure on the cricket field he scoffed "pressure is having a Messerschmidt on your tail"(he flew a Mosquito).Cricket was pure fun for him-he'd seen death up close!

Posted by smalishah84 on (October 18, 2010, 8:04 GMT)

Wonderfully well written article. Although somewhat out of place in a legends of cricket series. I thought it was supposed to be about his on-field exploits.

Posted by BillyCC on (October 18, 2010, 7:02 GMT)

Keith Miller is probably the second greatest bowling all-rounder to play the game, just behind Imran Khan who ironically also has the flash, glamour and stride. I particularly enjoyed the anecdotes in this article about his relationship with Bradman.

Posted by manasvi_lingam on (October 18, 2010, 4:57 GMT)

Having read about Miller before, it was a great pleasure to read this article. If one has to go by pure stats alone then Miller along with Imran Khan, Jacques Kallis, Garry Sobers and the peerless Faulkner is among the top 5 greatest all rounders of all time. He was 37 in his last few Test series and with many injuries. If those series are ignored, he averaged 22 with the ball and 40 with the bat.

Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (October 18, 2010, 4:23 GMT)

Point 1: I thought that a write up on the legends was based on achievements in Test cricket. Why then is a write up embellished with performances in first class matches? Point 2: What's with the mention of Keith's back problems all over the article. The same Don's article when people commented about Don's health and eyesight in the latter years. Wait, was there a mention of Sachin's back problems in the years, when he didn't perform well? Point 3: I can't relate to the article at all in the "legends context". The first 3 paras, speak only of Keith's glamour quotient!

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