Miller backs South Africa to shine at the T20 World Cup
David Miller believes South Africa have the talent to go a long way at the upcoming T20 World Cup tournament in Australia. The 33-year-old is a stalwart of the Proteas’ squad, having made 104 appearances for the T20 team over the past 12 years. Miller has notched 1,944 runs at an average of 32.40 during that period, and will be an integral part of their bid to win the World Cup this time around. He has previously represented his country at the tournament, and was part of the squad that narrowly missed out on the semi-finals last year.
South Africa were beaten by Australia in their opening group game, before recording victories over West Indies, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and England.
However, despite finishing level on points with England and Australia, they were eliminated from the competition on net run rate.
Although South Africa have never progressed beyond the semi-finals at the T20 World Cup, their recent performances have sparked talk that they may be poised to break their duck. They drew 2-2 in a series with India earlier this year, before recording victories over England and Ireland during the summer. Miller believes South Africa have improved massively in recent times and thinks their displays against England demonstrated they are a team to be feared.
“We have been building up the squad for some time now and everyone’s understanding their roles,” he told Betway. “We’re playing really, really well as a team.
“Individual performance is obviously crucial and the lads are putting their hands up when they need to. But as a team, we’ve bought into what we want to do and what works.
“It was fantastic to captain the team to a series victory in England. To win in England has been a challenge for us.”
Semi-final appearances in 2009 and 2014 are the best South Africa have managed at the T20 World Cup, despite boasting a healthy 62.85 win percentage at the tournament. Missing out on the last four in 2021 was undoubtedly a tough pill to swallow for a team that have found global silverware hard to come by. Australia, India and England head the betting for this year’s tournament, with South Africa, Pakistan and New Zealand next in the list. The Proteas have been drawn alongside India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in the Super 12 stage, and will be joined by two teams who progress from the first round. West Indies could be one of those teams, further adding to the size of the task South Africa will face in Australia.
While Miller admits it will not be easy to get out of the group, he says the squad has the talent to make progress if their big players step up.
“Looking back on winning the Indian Premier League with Gujarat Titans, you obviously need stand-up performances – that goes without saying,” he added.
“Enjoy each other’s success and want to be the match-winner. If you’re ticking the boxes, and you’re doing the right things along the way, generally, the outcome goes your way. So hopefully, things go our way in the World Cup.”
Fatigue could be an issue when the T20 World Cup gets underway, with the increasingly packed schedule placing big demands on players. There have been calls for the situation to be addressed, particularly with regards to the number of injuries being suffered by some of the sport’s top stars. However, having endured a period where games were cancelled due to the pandemic, Miller is happy to put his body on the line for South Africa.
“It’s trying to make sure that we’re in the best possible shape in terms of physique – really making sure that we tick our boxes in the gym and stay fit and healthy,” he said.
“You want to play as much cricket as possible while you’re in good nick. I’ve kind of decided just to listen to my body at this stage and try and play as much cricket as I can.”
With so many talented batsmen participating at the T20 World Cup, many pundits have predicted there could be some huge scores during the tournament. Afghanistan currently hold the record for the highest T20I score in the world, courtesy of the 278/3 they racked up against Ireland in February 2019. The Czech Republic also smashed 278 runs for the loss of four wickets against Turkey in the Continental Cup six months later. Many pundits have predicted that the 300-run barrier could be broken at international level, and Miller has not ruled out the possibility.
“The amount of skill in world cricket is pretty phenomenal,” said Miller. “As a batter it’s about keeping ahead of the game and sharp for as long as possible.
“The fear factor has gone now because it’s been proven what is possible. Teams aren’t intimidated by big run chases or run rates.
“At some stage, you’d have to say that 300 in a T20 or 500 in an ODI will happen.”
The T20 World Cup gets underway on October 16, with eight teams battling to secure the remaining four places in the Super 12 stage. Sri Lanka are expected to progress from Group A, while Namibia, Netherlands and United Arab Emirates will challenge for second place. West Indies should top Group B, with Zimbabwe, Scotland and Ireland fighting to join them in the next stage of the competition.
The winners of Group A and runners-up in Group B will join Afghanistan, Australia, England and New Zealand in Group 1. The Group B winners and second team in Group A will be alongside Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and South Africa in Group 2. The top two teams in each Super 12 group progress to the semi-finals, with the winners meeting at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on November 13.