12 little-known facts about Kyle Mills

A day after Daniel Vettori announced his retirement from international cricket, Kyle Mills too call quit from the game. Not many remember that the injury prone all-rounder, who played for New Zealand for 14-years was ranked No 1 in the ICC ODI rankings for a brief period in 2009. He ended his career as the second highest wicket-taker in ODIs for New Zealand after Vettori.

Mills finished with 240 wickets from 170 One-Day International at an average of 27.02.  He also played 19 Tests and took 44 wickets and 42 T20I and scalped 43 wickets.

Suvajit Mustafi 
lists out 12 interesting facts about the dependable New Zealand cricketer. 

1:  The beginnings: Kyle Mills association with the sport started as a young kid when he was involved in backyard battles with his dad, brother and friends from streets. He used to go along with his brother for the matches. He once said, “I was always 12th man as he [his brother] was seven years older than me, they were always short [of players] and I would always get a game”.

2:  Richard Hadlee the inspiration: Kyle Mills was inspired by watching the likes of Sir Richard Hadlee and Martin Crowe during the 80s and 90s. He gathered as much knowledge about the game as possible. In an interview in 2011, he stated, “He [Hadlee] is by far the best cricketer we have ever produced in my mind and is definitely the guy I looked up to most when growing up.”

3:  Favourite rival: Kyle Mills rates Sachin Tendulkar as the best batsman he has bowled to. He once said, “Really hard to figure out as a bowler where to bowl to him when he is on song.” He also rates Adam Gilchrist very highly and said that in his prime Gilchrist was unstoppable. Among the bowlers, he has faced, Mills rates Muttiah Muralitharan as the toughest.

4:  Horse-racing: When Kyle Mills isn’t playing cricket, he likes to spend time horse-racing.

5:  Favourite destinations and favourite venue to play cricket: Kyle Mills is a true Kiwi. He loves to holiday in Russell in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand as he finds the fish and chips best over there, besides the awesome scenic pleasures. His favourite venues in New Zealand are Queenstown and Napier.

6:  Took part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge 

In August 2014, Kyle Mills took part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, after being nominated by his skipper Brendon McCullum. In turn, he nominated former Blackcaps Andre Adams, Craig McMillan and John Campbell.

7:  Leading the Blackcaps: When New Zealand toured Sri Lanka in 2013, Kyle Mills captained the national side in four ODIs. In the absence of Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson, Mills was trusted with the job. A week before that, he also captained the last ODI in Bangladesh, which New Zealand lost. In the three matches he led in Sri Lanka, he won and lost apiece, while one ended in a no result.

8:  Number 1 ODI bowler: Kyle Mills reached No.1 on the ICC ODI bowlers ranking list in 2009 after taking nine wickets in New Zealand’s series against Australia. He remained in the top five for a long time. When Mills announced his retirement, New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said, “It’s sometimes forgotten that over the course of his career Kyle has consistently been ranked in the top 10 ODI bowlers in the world and for a long time held the top spot.” 

9:  Played three World Cups: Kyle Mills’ career progress was hampered by frequent injuries. Due to an injury, Mills missed out playing the 2007 World Cup. In fact his career was persistently dogged by injuries and he required surgeries for chronic shoulder and knee problems. He played in the 2003 and 2011 World Cup, and was a part of the 2015 World Cup, but spent all the matches in the sidelines.

10: Four sixes in four balls against the mighty Aussies: Kyle Mills began his career as a genuine all-rounder. Australia were at their peak in 2004 and had posted 261 in an ODI at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). New Zealand were 166 for eight, but Mills and Daniel Vettori fought on. In the last two balls of the 43rd over, Mills smacked Darren Lehmann for two sixes and then in the next over from Brad Hogg, he struck two more sixes. He brought New Zealand to brink of a win, but World Champions Aussies still sealed it. 

11: Indian Premier League: Kyle Mills played IPL for two teams, first for Kings XI Punjab and later for the Mumbai Indians.

12: Bouts of feisty temper 

Umpire intervenes in the Kyle Mills and Faf du Plessis altercation
Umpire intervenes in the Kyle Mills and Faf du Plessis altercation

Kyle Mills had a serious exchange of words with Graeme Smith during an ODI series in 2005. Captain Stephen Fleming had to pull him away from the South African skipper during the bad-tempered series. Years later in the 2011 World Cup quarter-final against the same side, Mills, who was the 12th man, brought out the drinks and began to sledge Faf du Plessis, because of whom AB de Villiers got run out. An angry Du Plessis then shoved Mills in return, only to be surrounded by a furious bunch of Kiwis who abused the South African batsman.

(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, sports marketer, 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)