Sunday, November 11, 2007

Keith Miller
Test debut: 29 March 1946 Last Test: 17 October 1956 Source: [1] Keith Ross Miller, MBE (28 November 1919-11 October 2004), was a famous Australian Test cricketer and World War II pilot. Miller is widely regarded as Australia's greatest ever all-rounder. Because of his ability, irreverent manner and good looks he was a crowd favourite. An English journalist called Miller "the golden boy" of cricket, leading to him being nicknamed "Nugget".
By the time of his retirement from Test Cricket in 1956, Miller had the best statistics of any all-rounder in cricket history. He often batted high in the order, sometimes as high as number three. He was a powerful striker of the ball, and one straight six that he hit at the Sydney Cricket Ground was still rising when it hit the first deck of the M.A. Noble Stand. When bowling, Miller was famous for varying his run-up, would often bowl his fastest deliveries from a short run and frequently bowled much slower balls, to surprise batsmen. He averaged just over three wickets per game, because he was used sparingly in his later career, due to a wartime injury. In addition, he was also a fine fielder, from any position, especially slips.
Miller was also a successful Australian rules footballer, and played for St Kilda and the Victorian state team, at fullback. He played 50 games for the Saints, and occasionally played in the forward line, where he kicked eight goals in one game, during 1941.

Early life and sporting career
As was the case with many of his contemporaries, Miller's sporting career was interrupted by World War II. On January 30, 1942 he joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). He trained at flying schools at Cunderdin, Western Australia and Mallala, South Australia, and was posted to Europe in January 1943.
He served primarily with No. 169 Squadron, Royal Air Force in the UK, as a pilot of Mosquito fighter-bombers. Miller had several narrow escapes, and injured his back when making a belly landing, after one of his plane's engines failed. This injury restricted his bowling on some occasions during his subsequent cricket career. (When asked many years later by Michael Parkinson, about pressure on the cricket field, Miller responded with the famous quote: "pressure is a Messerschmitt up your arse, playing cricket is not.")
One of Miller's closest friends was an English cricket star, Denis Compton. They first met in India during the war, in a match at Calcutta between an Australian armed forces team and East Zone. During East Zone's second innings, play was interrupted by rioting, including a pitch invasion, when Compton was on 94 runs. One of the rioters ran up to him and said: "Mr Compton, you very good player, but the match must stop now." In later years, Miller would quote this remark whenever Compton came to the crease in matches featuring both of them. (In 2005, the ECB and Cricket Australia decided that the player adjudged the Player of the Series in the Ashes would be awarded the Miller-Compton Medal, recognising their friendship and rivalry.)