Young Janneman Malan will rightly grab the headlines after his stunning century in the second ODI against Australia, but don’t overlook the gritty maturity of a reborn David Miller, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Damn, the Proteas have been a joy to behold in the limited-overs format over the last few weeks. A new-look side first showed immense promise against England, but they have gone up to another level against Australia.
Take T20 results as they come, but the longer 50-over format is where the real aptitude of limited-overs players will come to the fore.
In that regard, Wednesday’s ODI was a win in more ways than one.
This was a game that could so easily have got away from the Proteas, and yet they clawed their way back to restrict Australia to just 271, before a batting masterclass followed from the resilient hosts.
Talented Malan’s unbeaten 129 in just his second ODI should be spoken of for years to come, but the contribution and application of his more experienced counterpart, Miller, was almost equally eye-catching.
There is just something about Miller that looks a little different in this new Proteas set-up.
Always blessed with an abundance of talent, the 30-year-old has sometimes come under criticism for a lack of consistency when it comes to racking up big runs.
Yet, in the second ODI against England, he scored a memorable 69 not out, while his 64 in the first 50-over hit-out against Australia was another crucial contribution.
And when he walked to the wicket on Wednesday, the Proteas were still rather precariously placed at 184-4, but Miller calmly and confidently strode to the crease and again begun to construct a superbly timed innings.
At times you could almost sense Malan turning to Miller for backup, with his more experienced partner relieving pressure with a more-than-a-run-a-ball knock, while his decisive and confident running between the wickets ensured the Proteas remained ahead of the game.
This is the Miller that a young, talented Proteas ODI side has suddenly come to rely on heavily. It’s his middle-order stability with the bat and capabilities in the field that have made him an integral cog in ensuring the South African wheel turns in the right direction.
It’s abundantly clear that Miller has matured into a well-rounded player who is far more than just a big hitter. In fact, the manner in which he warmly embraced Malan when the youngster reached triple figures provided another indicator of just what a leader he has become.
At the age of 30, and an ODI average now just shy of 40, there’s plenty more for the middle-order maestro to achieve.
It’s Miller time!
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