Brian McMillan knows that South African and England will deliver a huge occasion and some "hard, serious" Test cricket when they meet at Edgbaston next year.
Joe Root’s England side will take on the Proteas in Birmingham over five days starting on Thursday August 25th.
Tests between the teams, two of the most competitive and unflinching in the world, are always fought tooth and nail and it promises to be great occasion in the stadium which former Bears’ all-rounder McMillan knows well.
He has the fondest memories of his two years with the Bears in the mid-1980s…and laments that his subsequent 116-game Test and ODI career saw him play many times in England but, strangely, never at Edgbaston.
“I was disappointed not to play for South Africa at Edgbaston because is such a fantastic ground,” he said. “But it will be great that the boys will play a Test there next year because the atmosphere is always great and they will really taste the passion of the fans.
“I loved playing against England. It is always hard, serious cricket and those are the challenges that test you. England v South Africa Tests are special – that was always the series, along with v Australia, that I looked forward to most.”Brian McMillan
McMillan’s heart will be a little bit divided next August. The proud South African played 38 Test matches and 78 ODIs in a long international career. His stay with the Bears was much briefer but highly impressive.
In 12 championship games for Warwickshire he averaged 58.76 with three centuries: 134 at Headingley (where he also dismissed Geoffrey Boycott lbw); 136 at Trent Bridge against Clive Rice and Richard Hadlee at their peak; and 106 against Kent at Edgbaston in last game for the club.
“The Bears are very special to me,” said McMillan, who now works in the family IT and telecoms business in Cape Town. “I grew up and learned so much in the two years I was there. Everybody really helped me and possibly I wouldn’t have had the career I did without those two seasons in Birmingham. They really advanced my game.
“One of my first trips to the UK was the scholarship to Warwickshire in 1985 and then I was offered a contract for 1986 and it was fantastic. My 2nd XI coaches Neal Abberley and Alan Oakman were wonderful from both a cricket and discipline perspective. They added a lot of value to my career, as did David Brown and Norman Gifford, the captain.
“I have very, very good memories of Warwickshire. Batting at three was quite onerous for me but I got a few runs and I guess my claim to fame is that Sir Geoffrey Boycott can’t chirp me – I got him out lbw at Headingley! Geoffrey is a wonderful man and one of the legends. It was always nice to play against that sort of player and county cricket at that time had a lot of them, like Malcolm Marshall, Richard Hadlee and Clive Rice
“I got a hundred in that game at Leeds too so I did okay there. I got one on a greentop at Trent Bridge too so it was nice to get a ton against my international captain and two of the better bowlers around.”
McMillan’s time at Edgbaston was truncated by the committee’s decision to go with Anton Ferreira and Alvin Kallicharran as the overseas players for 1987.
“That was their decision so I went back home and finished my studies,” he said. “But I am still very much in the Bears group and follow their fortunes avidly. I follow cricket in the UK very closely and was delighted to see the Bears have such a brilliant season. I also thought The Hundred was fantastic and really enjoyed the T20.”
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