Cape Town - Was
that the most influential limited-overs international display by a South
African fielder since Jonty Rhodes in 1993?
may have been different - Twenty20 match, as opposed to one-day international -
but David Miller’s electric showing in the field for the Proteas at Newlands on
Friday went an awfully long way to securing their narrow, six-run victory over
Pakistan in the engrossing first of three T20 clashes.
It had not
been the best of matches at the crease for the middle-order finisher; just one
of those days where a much-hyped batsman finds it hard to “middle it” in a
short stay with only a few overs at his disposal.
almost expected to smack every delivery onto the railway line considering the
weight of reputation he carries, was dismissed for 10 off 12 balls, without
managing to find the boundary once in the late scramble.
But with Faf
du Plessis (78 off 45 balls) and Reeza Hendricks (74 off 41) heavily to the
fore earlier, the Proteas nevertheless posted a record total at the ground of
192 for six ... and were just able to defend it in the face of a determined
charge by the plucky tourists.
did so was thanks in no small measure to Miller rising inspiringly above the
general level of out-fielding - again erratic - by the host nation.
seldom win player-of-the-match for those exploits alone, of course, but this
was one of those rare occasions where one did ... and it seemed an astute enough
Miller bagged four catches in the deep, his hands repeatedly appearing like
reassuring buckets as Pakistani batsmen used the long handle with necessary zeal
in the stiff chase.
was enough to make him the first South African and seventh non-wicketkeeper
worldwide to claim four catches in a T20 international (one gloveman has
claimed five catches once, India’s MS Dhoni).
certainly wasn’t the end of it for his efforts in the field: two magically
quick-thinking, target-hitting shies at the stumps accounted for both the
dangerous Babar Azam and then also Mohammad Rizwan by run-out.
certainly wanted the ball tonight,” was the admiring verdict of one of his
former national captains, SuperSport commentator and 38th birthday
celebrant Graeme Smith.
constantly looking for work, looking to be busy … he works so hard on his
fielding at training, too.”
effectively earning a “six-for” in dismissals, if you like, the 29-year-old
Miller would have brought memories flooding back to some enthusiasts of
fielding cult figure Rhodes’s five ODI catches - still the world record in that
landscape - against West Indies in the multi-nation Hero Cup at Mumbai’s
Brabourne Stadium in November 1993.
mostly operating in the inner circle where his exploits were most renowned, was
similarly unfailing and game-influencing as a fielder on that occasion,
including accounting for all of the West Indies’ heavyweight top three batsmen
in the order: Desmond Haynes, Brian Lara and Phil Simmons.
won that slightly weather-influenced fixture, too, by 41 runs, after the
Caribbean side were skittled for 139 in reply to the victors’ 180 for five in
Rhodes had also contributed more fulsomely with the bat in that game, his 40
making him second top-scorer to Daryll Cullinan, who had registered 70 before
Mumbai crowd some 26 years ago were awe-struck by his fielding to about the
same extent as the Capetonian public were by Miller’s at well-attended Newlands
on Friday …
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