Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Tony Becca | Miller's strike, an almost perfect 10

Published:Sunday | December 18, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Miller

Nikita Miller, the slow left-arm bowler from Melbourne and Jamaica, is not one who normally holds a grudge, at least, not for long and not against a colleague, and, certainly, not against his fellow Melbourne and Jamaica bowler, right-arm leg-spinner Damion Jacobs.

Sometime, however, be it today, or tomorrow, or even one day in the future, while sitting in his rocking chair and looking at the setting sun, the memories may flash by quickly and Miller may shake his head and quietly say to himself: 'If only Jacobs had waited one more delivery'.

Every bowler, fast or slow, dead or alive, has always dreamed of taking all 10 wickets in an innings, or maybe even 20 in a match, and Miller was on the verge of doing just that when Jacobs denied him, quite unintentionally, I believe.

And Miller will never forget the day, or the place, or the occasion.

It was Saturday, December 10, at Sabina Park, and it was a regional match between the Jamaica Scorpions and the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force.

The Red Force batsmen were chasing a victory target of 338 runs on the third day of the four-day match and, at lunch, they had survived three catches off pace bowler Reynard Leveridge, who bowled as fast as the wind that day, and, after the interval, were going like a house on fire at 76 without loss off 15 overs.

Suddenly, like in the olden days and a storm in the night, Miller, the captain, struck, and in a matter of three hours or so, the Red Force innings was history, flattened and blown away for an additional 129 runs with 10 wickets falling in 41 overs as Jamaica eased to victory by 132 runs.

 

DECEPTIVE OFFERINGS

 

The Scorpions had stung them fatally with the deceptive offerings of Miller, who ended with figures of 22 overs, 49 runs, and nine wickets, one off what would have been a bowler's dream, an unbelievable 10, or a magical clean sweep.

And it was close, very close.

Miller had picked off nine Trinidadian batsmen, one by one, from one to 10, all in a row, excepting one.

One was left, either the number 11 or the number eight.

Miller had got the ninth wicket in the 55th over, with the penultimate delivery, and Jacobs promptly picked up the 10th and last wicket, the number eight batsman in the order, Roshon Primus, leg before wicket off the last delivery of the 56th over as four wickets fell for the addition of no runs.

That was as close as it was, and as it could have been.

If only Jacobs had waited for even just one more delivery, Miller would have had a go at last man Sheldon Cottrell, and you never know what would have happened.

Knowing Cottrell, the ball might have gone for six over long-on or mid-wicket, but with all of that day and the entire fourth day to come, with Trinidad still trailing by 132 runs, Miller would have had at least five more deliveries, and he would have had another chance at the Jamaican now playing for the Red Force.

A wicket is a wicket, however, and it was one more to Jacob's tally, even though he will spend many a day regretting, probably, that one delivery, the one that denied Miller, his friend, of his boyhood dream.

Despite that, in spite of the one that got away, Miller must now be a happy man.

At 34 years old, he has played in 84 first-class matches, one Test match, 46 ODIs, nine T20, appeared in two World Cup tournaments, and has hauled in 428 first-class wickets, including 29 five wickets in an innings and seven 10 wickets in a match at an impressive average of 16.64 and a mind-boggling economy rate of 1.97 runs per over.

 

MILLER'S ONE REGRET

 

With such figures, Miller's one regret, apart from last Saturday's disappointment, may be his one, solitary Test appearance, and that in an under-strength West Indies team.

That, however, was a situation caused possibly by the fact that the West Indies believe that he is not a big spinner of the ball, but one whose weapons are his use of the crease, his William Tell-like accuracy, his clever and deceptive change of pace, and his knowledge of the game - knowledge of how to get batsmen out.

That, probably, with the quality, or lack of it, of today's regional batsmen against consistently good bowling, probably also counted against him and made the West Indies selectors react negatively to his uncanny skill.

As far as my memory goes, however, his nine wickets for 49 runs represent Jamaica's best effort in any cricket, and it certainly is the best since 1966 and the coming of the Shell Shield.

Bowlers like Nehemiah Perry (twice, eighth for 45, and eight for 64), O.C. 'Tommy' Scott (eight for 67), Richard Austin (eight for 71), Alfred Valentine (eight for 91 in his first Test match), and Courtney Walsh (eight for 92), Jerome Taylor (eight for 59), along with Jacobs himself, with eight for 47, have gone close after falling one short.

Miller, like others such as Odelmo Peters, Cleveland Davidson, and Jacobs, who never played for the Jamaica youth team but went on to play on the national team, was virtually unplayable on Saturday last.

And it was special, very special. As Jamaica's captain, he led from the front, and in leading from the front, he led his team into the lead in the race for the regional honours.

Meanwhile, over in India, the Board of Control for Cricket in India, or rather, the power of the BCCI, seems to be coming to an end, courtesy of the Indian Supreme Court.

At a sitting last week, the court said that Anurag Thakur, president of the BCCI, and Ratnakar Shetty, general manager, were guilty of lying under oath and could face a charge of perjury.

The possibility of the charge came after both men had denied, before the court, of writing to the ICC and asking that it writes to the court saying that the court's decision to name a man to oversee the business of the BCCI was "government interference".

The court, after correspondences with Shankar Manohar, president of ICC, and Dave Richardson, CEO, proved that both men were lying.

The court also reaffirmed its earlier decisions that the BCCI make changes as recommended by the Lotha Committee and that the BCCI must operate under some control.

The court, which had earlier named former civil servant GK Pillai as the one man in control, changed its stance, and decided it should be three people in control, and asked the BCCI to recommend a few people with whom it could work by January 2.

The court named its choice as one of three people. The court's choice is Mohinder Amanath, a former Indian Test cricketer.