Miller excited for Boomerangs campaign

Andrew Miller in action for Smoky Bay. PHOTO: DYLAN COOK
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Born and bred Ceduna cricketer Andrew Miller is set to open the batting for the South Australian Boomerangs at next week’s National Indigenous Championship in Alice Springs.

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In what will be his third national carnival appearance for the Boomerangs – SA’s Aboriginal representative team – Miller shall not only face the new ball but the tall quick will also send down a couple of swift deliveries himself.

The all-rounder, who grew up playing cricket for Koonibba, said it was an honour – each time he pulled on the baggy red Boomerangs cap – to represent Indigenous South Australians at the national level.

“It’s always an unbelievable opportunity, to be honest, since I found out about the Boomerangs, it has always been something that I wanted to do,” he said.

The 28-year-old said the national Indigenous carnival – held in Alice Springs each year and attended by all states and territories – played an important role in the paradigm of being an Aboriginal cricketer.

“It’s a pretty awesome event, it’s always great to have a lot of Indigenous people and cricketers from all over the country gathering together for our cricket carnival and of course, playing some really strong, really competitive cricket,” he said.

Asked what made the Alice Springs event such a special occasion, Miller highlighted the “spirit” of the carnival.

“It’s just the spirit of it really, every game is played in really good spirits, all with good culture – Alice Springs is such a good location for it.”

Miller said that as an Indigenous man, travelling up to the red centre and gathering with like-minded cricketers carried a certain level of sentimentality.

“Heading up to Alice, especially playing night games up there and seeing the sunset over the hills, all those sorts of things, it’s just amazing,” he said.

“The Indigenous culture up there is very strong, so it’s awesome to go up and be involved with that part of the country, it’s such a significant place for Aboriginal people.”

With Alice Springs considered a spiritual home for many Indigenous Australians, the same can be said of the Adelaide Oval for all South Australian cricketers – and Miller, while representing the Boomerangs, has been lucky enough to play on the hallowed turf numerous times.

“It’s elite, just a really good experience going out there, very lucky to be able to set foot on the Adelaide Oval,” he said.

“It’s something that you always dreamed of, playing a game of cricket out there, just running in, bowling from each end, and then when you’re standing out there with the bat and looking around, you’re going ‘this isn’t a dream anymore, this is happening’ – it’s unreal.”

The annual Boomerangs match at Adelaide Oval acts as a trial game in the lead-up to the National Indigenous Championships and is normally staged against the SA Country XI.

However, last year it was played against South Australia’s Hearing-Impaired rep team, which became yet another Boomerangs experience Miller would not be forgetting anytime soon.

“That was really great, it was incredible to see the level of cricket the deaf team plays at, to see how they go about their game and to really get into their spirit of cricket.”

Breaking into the Boomerangs squad took Miller a fraction more perseverance and patience than the big-hitting opener had initially hoped.

“As I said, since learning about the Boomerangs, I always wanted play for them, but I didn’t know how to get into the team, particularly being from Ceduna/Streaky Bay,” he said.

“So eight, 10 years ago, I often used to ask the question, ‘How do I do it? How do I get into the team?’ But I never really got too much in the way of a response.”

Miller was, however, advised to perform well when playing in Adelaide – and he was able to do so while representing Koonibba at a SACA State Aboriginal Carnival.

“I was lucky enough to put on a few good performances with bat and ball for Koonibba and eventually got invited to a Boomerangs training and from there made my way into the side – and now here we are, heading up to Alice again next week.”

Miller and the Boomerangs will play off against each state and territory across the seven-game Twenty20 carnival, with night games expected to draw a crowd.

“We normally get a few (spectators), especially at the Traeger Park games, it’s in the middle of town, and you’ve got the hill there, so you do get a decent crowd,” he explained.

“Last year we played under lights at Traeger Park on the Saturday night and it was a good bit of fun; we had plenty of people watching.”

In recent years, the event – somewhat of a rite of passage for Indigenous cricketers – has played host to household names such as current Australian test bowler Scott Boland, and short form Aussie batsmen Dan Christian and Darcy Short.

Selected alongside Miller in this year’s Boomerangs team is Jackson Gillespie, son of Australian bowling legend Jason Gillespie – who took 250-plus test wickets.

“Jackson is probably the biggest name of the young guys, because of his dad, and he’s actually a really talented bowler, just like his old fella,” Miller said.

After the Koonibba Cricket Club folded some years ago, Miller moved to Ceduna where he won a couple of flags, before joining mates at the Smoky Bay Roos.

The National Indigenous Championship will take place from February 22 to 27. Full coverage to follow.

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