Geoff Miller: 15 facts about the England all-rounder

Born September 8, 1952, Geoffrey Miller is a former England cricketer who played as an all-rounder. A lower-order batsman and off-spin bowler, he was one of the mainstays for Derbyshire and played in 34 Tests for England. On his 65th birthday, Suvajit Mustafi looks at 15 facts about the jovial cricketer.

1. Early mentors: Miller was educated at Chesterfield Grammar School. He was taught the basics from Norman Vicars and Jim Brailsford. Later, he received a lot of help in Derbyshire from South African all-rounder Eddie Barlow.

2. Nickname: Miller is nicknamed Dusty.

3. Test debut: Miller made his Test debut against West Indies in the famous 1976 series at The Oval. Though England faced a humiliating defeat, Miller didn t shame himself. He managed to get the wicket of Roy Fredricks and scored steely 34 and 26.

4. Never got a Test hundred: Despite being quite efficient with the bat, the three-figure score eluded Miller. However, he came very close to getting one in his fourth Test. Against Pakistan at Lahore, Miller scored an unbeaten 98 before running out of partners.

5. Finally the First-Class hundred: In fact, the three-figure score eluded him in First-Class cricket too. Miller registered his first First-Class hundred in his 380th innings. Eventually, he got two of them in First-Class cricket from his 383 matches.

6. The Walker : He came close to a Test hundred again in 1982, against India at Old Trafford. Miller and Ian Botham stitched a 169-run stand for the sixth wicket. Botham scored 128 and when Miller was on 98. Facing Dilip Doshi, he was dismissed caught bat-pad at silly-point. Not waiting for the umpire s decision, he walked. Later, umpire Dickie Bird told Miller that he wouldn t have given him out.

7. A great run in domestic circuit in 1976: Miller had a prolific run with both bat and ball in the 1976 season. He finished with 820 runs at 25.62 and 77 wickets at 21.55 winning the Cricket Writers Club Young Cricketer of the Year award.

8. An Ashes hero: England won the 1978-79 Ashes series 5-1 and Miller was one of the English heroes. He scored 234 at 23.40 and was England s joint highest wicket-taker alongside Botham. He picked 23 wickets at 15.04.

9. A rare distinction: In the same Ashes series, Botham and Miller became the only third and the fourth Englishmen to have scored more than 200 runs and over 20 wickets in an Ashes series in Australia.

10. The moment at Melbourne: The Boxing Day Test of 1982 was perhaps one of the closest one in the history of the game. Australia needed another four to win the game with Jeff Thomson and Allan Border going strong. Botham bowled one just outside off-stump and Thomson edged it and the ball went straight to Chris Tavar at second slip. The ball ricocheted off his hands, and went up, Miller ran in from first slip to catch it. It was the closest Test since 1902. In an interview with All Out Cricket, Miller recalls the catch, I remember catching the ball and throwing it miles up in the air, then running off, arms up with the sun hat on.

11. Sense of humour: Miller is popular for his dry sense of humour and jovial nature. He was one who enjoyed the game a lot. Former English cricketer and writer Simon Hughes once described him as, The only remaining player who unfailingly visited the opposing team’s dressing room after play to thank them for the game … [and] the last man to field at slip with a whoopee cushion up his jumper.

12. Business: Miller ran Moss & Miller, a sporting goods store in Chesterfield, with Chesterfield FC footballer Ernie Moss.

13. After-dinner speaker: Famous for his wit, Miller went on to be a much in demand after-dinner speaker.

14. Chairman of selectors: Joining the England selection panel in 2000, Miller was named the Chairman of Selectors in 2008. Under him, England saw several highs and rose to the top of the ICC Test rankings in 2011. He stepped down from the position ahead of the Ashes in Australia in 2013-14.

15. Officer of the Order of the British Empire: Post his retirement as an England selector, he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2014 New Year Honours for his services to the game.

(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sportsmarketer , strategist, entrepreneur, philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully and rivu7)