Hashim Amla’s wisdom gives David Miller the belief to change South Africa’s World Cup record

Hashim Amla’s wisdom gives David Miller the belief to change South Africa’s World Cup record


“I still keep in touch with him and will continue to do that during this World Cup,” says Miller

Most professional sportspeople consider themselves only as good as their most recent game, but Hashim Amla has taught David Miller to look at that in a slightly different way.

“The famous old saying is that you are only as good as your last game, but Hashim always said to me [you’re only as good as] your next game,” Miller said.

Essentially, that wisdom gives Miller and South Africa the opportunity to believe there’s always another chance to change their major tournament record, which has seen them go without a trophy since 1998. “It’s about resetting the clock and the mind, and trying to control and really be in the present,” Miller said.

Close your eyes and imagine Amla saying those words. You can, right? That’s because if there was one South African who never seemed to carry any baggage, it was Amla.

Though he is not part of this squad, Amla has been involved in every South African World Cup squad for the last decade – the 2011, 2015 and 2019 fifty-over tournaments and 2012, 2014 and 2016 T20 World Cups – and his influence looms large over the current crop, especially Miller.

“I had the privilege to play with him for many, many years and I suppose what I have learnt from him is to not let failure get you down,” Miller said. “We are striving for consistency in performance and, off the field, trying to be a consistent person as well. That’s what I have really enjoyed about Hashim and his influence, being nice and calm, being a pillar of strength; the silent assassin. He was about getting the job done but more so, being nice and consistent as a person. It has been a good journey with him and I still keep in touch with him and will continue to do that during this World Cup for any advice.”

While Amla can’t tell South Africa how to win the tournament, he can offer plenty on the batting front, especially as he is still in good touch himself. He was the sixth-highest run scorer in the County Championship this year and has significant experience in the UAE. Amla played three Tests, eight ODIs and three T20Is here between 2010 and 2013. In those, he has averaged 78.40, 50.00 and 30.50 respectively.

Miller was also part of the 2013 ODI squad that played in the UAE, and hopes he can reflect on that and the knowledge he has gained during the last two seasons of the IPL. “In terms of leadership, it’s really nice to be a part of the group and share my experiences,” he said. “I feel like we [some of the senior members of the squad] have got a lot to add off the field – what we’ve learnt in the IPLs, in the previous IPLs and when we played here in Dubai for South Africa against Pakistan. Leadership is something we are taking on more and more, and hopefully, it all plays itself out in results.”

For all Miller’s behind-the-scenes work, he knows he also has to put in a big effort with the bat. He is South Africa’s most-capped men’s T20I player, with 90 matches to his name, and has been part of T20 World Cups since 2010. His role has always been that of a big-hitting finisher and he may find himself with an opportunity to contribute more than just the death-over runs in this competition. South Africa’s top-heavy squad is laden with four opening batters, three of whom are likely to play, and though Rassie van der Dussen is pencilled in at No.4, if the start is solid enough, Miller could find himself promoted to take care of the middle overs, which he has identified as crucial.

“There have been really good starts [in these conditions] and it’s really important that teams control the middle phase – the middle overs. It’s about extending that and controlling that.”

He also downplayed suggestions that South Africa’s batting line-up may be too short, with only six specialist batters in most of their XI and a tail that starts at No. 8. “We’ve got a strong enough batting unit. There might be a game or two where we need our bowlers to pull through with the bat but ultimately you want to be scoring the bulk of your runs from the top six. If we don’t do that, we don’t deserve to win games. There’s a sense of responsibility from the batting side of things.”

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent

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