Geoff Miller was an evergreen county off-spinner and reliable Test cricketer. He also happened to be involved in one of the most dramatic finishes to a Test match ever, when he pocketed a looping rebound off fellow slipper Chris Tavare to dismiss last man Jeff Thompson and seal victory by 3 runs in the Boxing Day Test of 1982. Miller had enjoyed success in the previous series down under, where his 23 Test wickets had come at just 15.04 each. However, despite such a fantastic performance with the ball in that series, Millers place in the Test team was as much to do with his batting being superior to his contemporary off-spinners Eddie Hemmings and John Emburey. His record of 60 wickets in 34 Tests would seem to indicate this, although his Test average of 30.98 with the ball was superior to both these players, and such an average certainly bears comparison with the English spinners of the 1990s. His highest score of 98 in Tests (which he twice scored, once undefeated) only just places him behind Martyn Moxon and Alex Tudor in the list of English nearly centurions.
Millers place in the history of his native county Derbyshire had been sealed when he hurtled from the non-strikers end to complete the single which won Derbyshire the first ever Natwest Trophy in a finish as exciting and close (Derbyshire won by virtue of losing fewer wickets) as could be. Miller ended his Derbyshire career on a high by being a regular member of the team which won the Sunday League in 1990. Although he turned down a pay-as-you-play deal for 1991, his departure was without ill-feeling, which cant be said of every cricketer who has left Derbyshire over the years (or indeed about his own first departure from Derbyshire at the end of 1986, when he left to join Essex). Happily, Millers retirement has brought him further success. His dry, understated humour makes him an entertaining after dinner speaker, and in his day job he has been an England selector since 2000, a tenure which has coincided which a marked upturn in the fortunes of the national side.
(Article: Copyright © 2005 Matthew Reed)