Despite his outstanding first-class record, Nikita Miller has only played one Test for West Indies
Nikita Miller, the Jamaica captain, has said he was more focused on securing victory for his side rather than gaining a record 10-wicket innings haul against Trinidad & Tobago in the recently concluded fourth round of the WICB Regional Four-Day Tournament.
Miller’s figures of 9 for 41 in T&T’s second innings were the best in West Indies’ domestic history. He became only the sixth bowler to claim nine in an innings in recorded West Indies first-class statistics since 1966.
“My reaction was quite normal and wasn’t overly excited to be honest,” Miller told ESPNcricinfo. “I didn’t know at the time it was the best, since I knew Bishoo had taken nine wickets a couple of seasons ago, so I was just glad it was accomplished in a winning team effort.”
Miller took the first nine wickets of T&T’s innings, before the legspinner Damion Jacobs had Roshon Primus lbw to deny him the honour of being the first West Indian to take all ten in an innings. Miller says the feat wasn’t on his mind, in the heat of the moment.
“Leaving the field some fans asked me why I didn’t push to get all 10, but really as captain I was mainly focused on getting Trinidad all out,” he said. “There was many points at other end when the batsmen were scoring freely, so even while bowling and I didn’t even celebrate the ninth wicket, I was thinking about bowling options, field placements for next bowler and over.”
During West Indies’ decline over the last 20 years or so, there has been a long-standing debate over the standard of domestic cricket in the Caribbean. The pitches have tended not to help the fast bowlers, which has meant spinners such as Miller have always among the leading wicket-takers. Some believe the success of spinners reflects how poorly Caribbean batsmen have tended to play slow bowling.
In the case of Miller, who has an outstanding first-class record – 428 wickets in 84 matches at an astounding average of 16.64 – and was a major player in Jamaica winning six first-class titles between 2007 and 2014, those aforementioned reasons have probably played a part in the last three West Indies chairmen of selectors – Clyde Butts, Clive Lloyd and Courtney Browne – ignoring him for Test cricket.
“If called up to do a job [by West Indies], will do to best of ability – but my mind is not really on it,” Miller said. “The one thing I’d say about criticism of whether I could replicate my domestic performances at Test level, and can only speak for myself – I have played in A team cricket in 2013 versus India and Sri Lanka, playing against guys like [Virender] Sehwag, [Gautam] Gambhir, [Cheteshwar] Pujara, Yuvraj [Singh] and got five-wicket hauls and was the leading West Indies A wicket-taker.
“Yes, the standard (of West Indies domestic cricket) could improve to another level, but if it was I believe I’d still do well, because if you’re good, you perform despite the standard.”