DAVID MILLER believes Yorkshire can hold their heads high despite their winless performance in the Twenty20 Champions League main competition.
The hard-hitting South African batsman, who played a key role in getting them to the global event, said they could be proud of their efforts on the international stage.
Yorkshire are due to fly home from South Africa today after a three-week trip in which they took on some of the world’s leading Twenty20 players and franchises.
Although they lost three of their four matches in the tournament proper, with the other rained off when they were up against it, Miller said the results were of secondary significance.
“It was a little bit disappointing,” he said of Yorkshire’s form in the main event after they had won both their games in qualifying, “but, for the guys, just getting to the Champions League was a massive experience and I think that everyone did themselves proud.
“We had a couple of games in which we didn’t do very well, but, throughout the whole Twenty20 tournament back home and the Champions League qualifiers, the team played really well.”
Miller featured in only two Champions League matches in what amounted to a considerable blow to Yorkshire’s chances.
He played in the first qualifying game against Sri Lankan champions Uva Next, top-scoring with an unbeaten 39 to seal a five-wicket win, and also in the final group match against Chennai Super Kings, striking 28 in a four-wicket defeat.
Miller was unavailable for the other fixtures due to commitments with his South African franchise Dolphins in first-class cricket.
“I would like to think that I could have changed the team’s fate,” added Miller, who missed the second qualifying match against Trinidad & Tobago followed by the group games with Sydney Sixers, Mumbai Indians and Highveld Lions.
“But I also know that a lot of our guys who played in the competition back in England were not present in South Africa.
“Basically, the team wasn’t the same to that which did so well in the domestic T20 tournament.
“That was always going to make it a lot tougher.”
Although the improvements shown by Yorkshire in domestic Twenty20 last summer were a genuine team effort, they were undoubtedly spearheaded by two men: Miller and fellow overseas player Mitchell Starc.
Miller comfortably topped Yorkshire’s run-scoring charts with 390 at 48.75, while Starc, the Australian left-arm quick, was the competition’s leading wicket-taker with 21 at 10.38.
However, Starc was playing for his home franchise Sydney Sixers in the Champions League, while Yorkshire were also without England’s Tim Bresnan and Jonny Bairstow, plus the injured Rich Pyrah.
That amounted to five players from their potential first-choice XI – a figure swelled by an injury crisis that forced Yorkshire to call on pace bowlers Iain Wardlaw and Oliver Hannon-Dalby, the latter handed his Twenty20 debut against Highveld Lions.
Such handicaps were not lost on Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale, who echoed Miller’s sentiments.
“All things considered, we’ve had a great tournament and every single one of us has gained experience,” said Gale.
“The side that finished the competition contained about four players from the domestic competition, so we were always going to be up against it.
“But, saying that, it was an opportunity for the other lads to step up to the plate and we’ve really got to benchmark ourselves against those teams we’ve come up against in South Africa.
“We’ve played against some quality sides and can only learn from that.”
Gale said Yorkshire had been heartened by messages of support they received from back home.
Many took to the social networking site Twitter to extend their good wishes.
“Special mention goes to the members and supporters back home in Yorkshire,” said Gale. “We got fantastic support from them throughout the tournament in tweets and messages.
“We’d all like to say a big thank you and also for their support throughout the season.
“It’s meant a lot to the players.”
The Champions League brought down the curtain on the longest season in Yorkshire’s history, which began on April 5 and finished on October 22.
The players will now have some time off before resuming fitness training in December.
“The Champions League was basically reward for a really good season,” commented Yorkshire’s first-team coach Jason Gillespie, who helped lead the club to County Championship promotion.
“The tournament has given the lads a taste of the biggest stage and should get them striving to improve their games.
“It’s been a wonderful journey for us, and it must be said that these lads have worked incredibly hard.
“The opportunity to play against some of the greats of not just now, but of all time, in the Champions League was pretty special.
“I’m sure our guys will remember the experience for the rest of their lives.”