The “Golden Nugget”, as Keith Miller was known, was one of the leading all-rounders of the 1940s and 1950s.
170 wickets at 22.97 in 55 Tests for Australia combined with 2,958 runs at 36.97 give a clear indication of Miller’s capacity with bat and ball. He formed a lethal new ball combination with Ray Lindwall which terrorised England’s batsmen in the years following the Second World War, a war in which he had served courageously as a Mosquito pilot. He brought a slice of RAF verve and glamour into the dreary post-war years and played cricket as he lived, with flair, athleticism and elegance.
Miller had played a little Sheffield Shield cricket before the war, but he really arrived on the world stage during the Victory “Tests” between English and Australian Services teams in the summer of 1945. With many cricketers still on active military service, the matches were not truly representative. But the teams were made up of the best cricketers then available, among them Len Hutton, Wally Hammond and Lindsay Hassett. Three of the five matches took place at Lord’s. Miller scored 105 in the opening game, took six wickets and scored 71 not out in the second and made 118 in the third. He ended the summer by smashing 185 in under three hours for the Dominions against England, also at the Home of Cricket. There were 13 fours and seven sixes, one of which landed in front of the press box up in the top tier of the Pavilion. On the third morning he went from 61 not out to 185 in just 99 minutes. Sir Pelham Warner, a man who had seen many extraordinary performances over several decades at Lord’s, including Albert Trott’s famous hit over the Pavilion, called it the greatest exhibition of batting he ever saw.
The post-war years brought him three Tests at Lord’s - in 1948 he scored 74 in a comfortable Australian victory, in 1953 he scored 109 then in 1956 his bowling came to the fore and he took 5 for 72 and 5 for 80 in true fast bowler style – nine of his wickets either clean bowled or caught behind. With 11 Test wickets at 20.94 and 270 runs at 45.00, few visiting cricketers have been as quite so at home at the Home of Cricket as Keith Miller.