ONE could be forgiven for reacting to the news that Yorkshire have signed David Miller as their second overseas player for Twenty20 with the words: “David who?”
Miller is hardly a household name outside his native South Africa, where he has played just 35 first-class matches in a little over four years.
But the left-handed batsman, who turns 23 tomorrow, has gained a reputation for big-hitting performances in one-day cricket and makes up in potential what he lacks in prominence.
It is why Yorkshire’s director of cricket Martyn Moxon believes Miller can provide the missing link as the club look to finally win the Twenty20 Cup at the 10th time of asking.
“He’s not a Chris Gayle type who everybody knows, but when you look at his record, from a strike-rate point of view, he’s just what we need,” said Moxon.
“David’s career strike-rate is over 120 and, in the Indian Premier League, he’s been scoring at 150-plus.
“He’s the sort of explosive player we’ve been looking to find.
“It was an area we felt we needed to strengthen, particularly because we’re not sure of Jonathan Bairstow’s availability at the moment because there are one-day internationals around that time.
“In Twenty20, David is the sort of player who, if you’re batting first, can be the difference between getting, say, 140 and 180-plus.
“Similarly, if you’re chasing and the run-rate is at nines, he can come in and within a couple of overs it can be back down to sixes.
“That’s the difference we hope he can make, someone who can change in three or four overs the course of a match.”
Yorkshire’s recruitment of Miller, who will line-up alongside existing overseas player Mitchell Starc, the Australian pace bowler, emphasises their commitment to Twenty20.
Although their No 1 goal is Championship promotion, they are keen to do well in the game’s shortest form.
“At the end of the day we want to try and win the Twenty20 Cup,” said Moxon. “It’s something the players enjoy and we feel we owe it to our fans to give it our best shot.
“Championship cricket is the most important thing, but we still want success in the one-day stuff.
“David’s signing proves that we won’t just be turning up for the sake of it.”
Miller, who is due to arrive in England on Tuesday, could play in Yorkshire’s Twenty20 warm-up match at Cleckheaton on Wednesday, depending how he feels after his flight. But he will go straight into Yorkshire’s opening Twenty20 group game against his former county Durham at Headingley Carnegie on Friday evening.
Miller played 13 Twenty20 games for Durham last year, scoring 212 runs at 26.50.
His solitary half-century came against Yorkshire at Scarborough, where he made 54 in a three-wicket defeat.
Since then, Miller, who has played 16 one-day internationals and eight Twenty20 internationals, has represented Kings XI Punjab in the IPL.
He batted at No 4, No 5 and No 6 for the Kings, and Yorkshire have yet to determine where he will slot into their own batting order.
“We haven’t finalised that yet,” said Moxon.
“We’ve got a few days now when we can practice a few things ahead of the (Twenty20) tournament and it gives us a chance to nail down our strategy.
“But the beauty about David is that he’s a flexible player.
“We could use him either at the top of the order or in the middle-order, depending on our needs.”
In addition to a Twenty20 career record that has brought 980 runs in 51 games at 33.79, Yorkshire were attracted to Miller by the fact he is available for the whole competition.
They are also confident that Starc will play for its duration, even though the Australia A tour of England, for which the left-armer has been selected, starts around the time of the knockout stages.
“At the moment we’ve got Mitch for the entire competition,” said Moxon. “We’re currently in discussions with Cricket Australia about his availability in general.However, what’s being discussed really is what happens after Twenty20.
“Ideally, we want Mitch available for as long as possible.”
Moxon was frustrated by yet more inclement weather yesterday when no play was possible on day three of the Championship match against Glamorgan at Colwyn Bay.
Umpires Mark Benson and Paul Baldwin called an early lunch and then abandoned proceedings at 12.15pm owing to persistent rain, which means Yorkshire have lost 1,055 of a possible 2,976 overs in the Championship this season.
With facilities at Colwyn Bay only of club ground standard, and with parts of the field utterly sodden, there is a strong chance there will be no play today either – even though better weather is forecast.
In the only cricket possible so far, which amounted to 34 overs on day one, Glamorgan scored 117-3, with Stewart Walters unbeaten on 37.