Black History Month: Donovan Miller’s Story


Growing up against the backdrop of one of the best cricketing sides of all time, it was almost inevitable that Donovan Miller would end up forging a career in the sport.

Born in Jamaica in 1979, Miller was five years old when a 16-strong West Indies touring squad returned from England, the birthplace of the game, on the back of a crushing 5-0 series victory.

Featuring fellow Jamaicans Jeff Dujon, Michael Holding, and Courtney Walsh, the Windies team had reeled off a run of wins that was more akin to a series of imbalanced warm-up matches than any real competitive encounters.

Two of the victories were by a margin of an innings, with two more by eight and nine wickets, respectively, and the entire series-long drubbing is still the only whitewash by a touring side in a series longer than three matches.

Clive Lloyd would hand over the captaincy to Viv Richards after another triumphant tour to Australia in the winter that followed, but there would be no let-up in the Caribbean region’s superiority in the years that followed.

Miller was thousands of miles away from both of those tours, and was just beginning to reach an age that provides real memories.

However, he still recalls being heavily immersed in that decade of dominance under the captaincy of two knights of the realm, with exposure coming from a multitude of different angles.

“You’d see a lot of people walking around in the streets with their radios, listening to the games, and that caught my eye,” he says.

“I didn’t really have an introduction to cricket, it was just that it was all around in that way, and we’d then play in the street and on the beach! That’s how my love for the game really developed.

“The Caribbean is a collection of very sporty nations, and as a youngster, I’d try and play anything I could – football, table tennis, or track and field.

“It would be anything, but in those days, West Indies cricket was at the top of its game, and that really caught my attention.

For Miller, there was no shortage of individuals to look up to either, with the West Indies side of that day full of personalities who were in the process of establishing themselves as legends of the game.

In addition to his compatriots Holding and Walsh, there was another express pace bowler who caught Miller’s eye.

“Brian Lara was obviously the one who everyone idolised as a left-handed batter, but my hero was Malcolm Marshall, because he wasn’t a very tall individual.

“He ran in from an angle, he was still very quick, and he was very confident, so that led me towards idolising him as a fast bowler.”

Having made the decision, influenced by legends, to carve out his own path in cricket, Miller arrived in the United Kingdom as an 18-year-old to study, with his development in the sport concurrently taking a giant leap.

“I came to stay with my grandad in West London,” he explains. “I didn’t really know anything about the cricket community here apart from that there was a lot of it!

“There were more opportunities here than in the Caribbean. To be able to get to play on a Saturday, you had to be really good, because there were perhaps only two teams per club.

“You would have to be good enough to make one of those two teams, or else you just wouldn’t play! Whereas here, there are so many different leagues, and so many different opportunities where you could get involved.”

In particular, there was one specific meeting, at one of cricket’s most hallowed venues, that set Miller on the path to realising a dream.

“I remember my grandad and I were living very close to Lord’s, and after he took me down there I remember saying to him I wanted to play county cricket!

“We met Angus Fraser, who was the one who started to explain to me how it works, and he put me through a very good club in the Middlesex Premier League.

“After that, when I became a bit more mature, I moved across to East London where I began to spend a lot of time with the Essex League, and from that, that’s how I got involved with Essex!”

From humble beginnings, Miller has ascended to the very top of the game, having earned multiple franchise T20 tournament victories as a coach.

He was part of the backroom staff for the Jamaica Tallawahs’ victorious Caribbean Premier League campaign in 2016, and went on to lead the Vancouver Knights to the in the Global T20 Canada.

Donovan was appointed the Club’s Pathway Fast Bowling Lead Coach in January 2023. He is an integral and hugely valued part of the staff at Essex, and all at The Cloud County Ground are delighted to call him a colleague, as we share his origin story for Black History Month.