South Africa and Australia might be staunch rivals on the sporting field, but that did not stop David Miller from admiring and taking inspiration from cricketers from those shores.
Miller has been the talk of Indian Premier League (IPL) this summer with his explosive performances for Kings Punjab.
The 22-year-old, who is the top scorer for his team this season, said the exploits of Australian players encouraged him to take up cricket.
He dreamt of becoming a cricketer after watching former Australia Test opener Matthew Hayden, was nourished by Yorkshire coach and former fast bowler Jason Gillespie, and flourished under the captaincy of Adam Gilchrist and David Hussey in the Punjab team.
"I come from a sporting family where I used to play cricket, hockey, tennis and squash during my school days.
My father, who was a club-level cricketer, told me that it was necessary to play different sports in order to stay fit. I developed a liking for cricket after watching giant Matthew Hayden dominating the bowlers and hitting them to every corner of the field,” Miller told Mail Today.
"Then I joined Yorkshire where ex-Australia bowler Jason Gillespie was the coach. I learnt a lot about my game and strategy from him. It helped in improving my game,” said the left-hander who packs power in his strokes like Hayden.
He said Gilchrist and Hussey are very passionate cricketers who encourage players to take that extra step. "They are very energetic captains. They have faith in their teammates and motivate us to give our best,” said Miller.
The South African joined Kings XI last year but didn’t get enough opportunities to prove his worth.
He rose to prominence with two back-to-back half-centuries and stunned everyone with a 38-ball ton against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Miller feels that IPL has helped him raise the standard of his game.
"I have played in T20 leagues in different countries but this is the best. The quality of cricket and players is better than at other places,” said Miller.
He has been drafted in the South African squad for the Champions Trophy.
"The IPL experience will help me in England. I have played against some of the best cricketers here and almost the same set will be there next month,” said Miller. He made a mark in the Twenty20s, but Test cricket is where his heart lies. "I like T20 but a player’s true potential could be judged only in Tests,” he said.