David Miller is one of the finest white-ball cricketers around. Little wonder the hard-hitting left-hander from South Africa is much in demand in T20 leagues around the globe.
He has lit up the IPL with some sensational knocks since he joined Kings XI Punjab in 2012. After making 1850 runs (strike rate 138.78, average 34.25) for the Punjab team, which he also led in 2016, he has moved to Rajasthan Royals. He spoke to Sportstar from Dubai. Excerpts:
How do you look forward to playing for Rajasthan Royals after your long stint with Kings XI Punjab?
I am really excited to start this new challenge with a new team in the IPL. I spent a lot of years at Kings XI and so far it has been a fantastic experience here at the Royals with the boys and all the staff. I’ve been welcomed with open arms by everyone here, right from the time I took off from South Africa. Everyone’s been really kind and have made me feel at home ahead of the new season. I can’t wait to get going and play for Rajasthan Royals now!
READ | IPL 2020: What does Rajasthan Royals' strongest XI look like?
The Royals have always been a very competitive side with some top players through the years. Now having joined the squad, I’m sort of getting to know the reason why the squad is as good as it is. The atmosphere around the group is brilliant. The management and the entire coaching staff do a brilliant job supporting the team to perform out there. It’s a close unit and the camaraderie is brilliant, and I think that it’s probably rubbing off a bit on me too.
“I am really excited to start this new challenge with a new team in the IPL. I spent a lot of years at Kings XI and so far it has been a fantastic experience here at the Royals with the boys and all the staff. I’ve been welcomed with open arms by everyone here, right from the time I took off from South Africa.” - David Miller
You are one of the most experienced foreign pros in the IPL. What do you think could be the reasons for IPL becoming the huge success it has? How is it different from the other T20 leagues?
I feel it’s the quality of the IPL that appeals to all the players and fans around the world. It’s really at the top end, all the eight teams are strong and equal in a lot of aspects. Also, you see that every year with the number of close games and final over finishes that take place, it really raises everyone’s interest levels in the league and people turn up to get more of it.
What do you think could be the challenges for the IPL in the UAE?
The challenges would always be there, that’s the nature of the tournament, you travel to a lot of places and play on a variety of surfaces. This season, however, the travel would be a bit reduced given the close proximity of the venues compared to India. However, the heat along with the pitches would be a massive challenge. Normally you would play seven matches at your home turf, so you would have that advantage. But there is no real home ground advantage here and we would need to adapt to newer and possibly slower surfaces through the course of the tournament.
Do you think IPL could bring a lot of cheer in these pandemic times?
Yes, definitely. Sport has that power to bring some cheer to the general public in difficult times. It presents a positive distraction from all the sad news people are hearing in these tough times and provides some good entertainment to the fans. IPL is obviously massive in India, and people will have something to enjoy in their homes and spend some time with their families watching what they like and are truly passionate about.
Your 101 off 38 balls against RCB in 2013 is still regarded as one of the finest IPL innings. How do you look back at that knock?
Yes, it was a special innings that came in at a difficult moment for us in the game. The required rate was in double figures and we really had to start going for the big overs to stay in the match then. It was one of those days where everything came off for me, I was dropped fairly early in my innings and took my chances after that. Luckily for me, it came off well. It was a belter of a pitch and I made full use of it.
India has of late been producing a lot of quality pacers...
Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav have all been brilliant. They can swing the ball at good speed which is difficult and challenging as a batsman in any form of cricket. I think all of them have been really impressive and certainly pose a major threat to the opposition's batsmen now.
Tell us about how life was in South Africa after the coronavirus outbreak.
After the outbreak, all of us in South Africa, like the majority of the world, went into a lockdown. It was difficult for a lot of people who were travelling daily to work to just stay at home. Lots of people suffered and a lot of them are still struggling due to the pandemic. It is important to stay indoors and protect yourself and everyone around you, the toll though has been significant on everyone and is still in effect for a good chunk of the population. I kept my training going though whatever facilities and equipment I had at my disposal. We also had the 3-T tournament that did give us some cricket; it was like a blessing.