Watch: In one of cricket’s more unusual sights, Australian off-spinner Colin Miller, sporting bright blue hair, left West Indies No.11 Courtney Walsh in splits during the Australia-West Indies Sydney Test match of the 2000/01 Frank Worrell Trophy.
On the second day of the Test, West Indies’ last pair was greeted to the sight of seamer-turned-spinner Miller’s glorious blue mane, shining bright under the Sydney sun. But that was was not all: Miller proceeded to bowl the first over of the second day to tailenders Walsh and Colin Stuart, much to the amusement of the SCG crowd.
“I… I am lost for words,” conceded Michael Holding on air, when the cameras panned to Miller. “What is that?”
Miller was in his bowling stride when Walsh pulled away, amused to the point of chuckling while exchanging a few words with an equally amused Steve Waugh at leg slip. The entertainment would stay on, as a part of Miller’s blue, mixed with sweat, slowly drained along the back of his shirt.
All the mirth aside, Miller actually managed to snare Walsh in what was the West Indian great’s final Test match on Australian soil. Lunging forward to Miller’s offering in the 103rd over, Walsh handed an easy catch to Matthew Hayden at silly point. That wrapped up West Indies’ first innings. Australia went on to win the Test by six wickets, sealing a 5-0 whitewash. Miller finished with six wickets in the match.
It was not the only time Miller, nicknamed ‘funky’ for his quirks, was seen with coloured hair. Across his 18-Test career (and beyond), Miller sported hairdos of varying hues: from brown to yellow to blue, green and even red.
Years later, speaking on The Last Wicket podcast, Miller revealed that it was not a planned act, but one which he had hoped to unveil during the subsequent one-day series.
“It wasn’t planned,” Miller recalled in 2021. “I didn’t turn up for that Test match planning to dye my hair blue. I was hoping to go to the Test match and being named for the one-day squad, when they normally name the squad for the rest of the summer. And I always had dreams of doing it at a Friday night at the MCG in front of 80,000 people, bowling with coloured hair. That was my plan.”
However, Miller was not named in the ODI squad, which announced at the end of the first day of the Test (in fact, he never played limited-overs cricket for Australia). When he heard the news, Miller decided to improvise, going for a mid-Test colour swap: “My plan was derailed. There goes my Friday night plan, one day cricket under the lights to just my last game of the summer. [I thought] Being a Test match, let’s do something for tomorrow. I just called the hairdresser out of the blue. The concierge at the hotel called the hairdresser for me and just asked him to bring some colour in, and they just happened to bring in blue. It could have been purple, it could have been green. It could have been any colour, but they just happened to bring in blue that night.”
The following morning, Miller walked into the dressing room, only to see captain Steve Waugh speaking to his fast bowlers about the morning’s plan. Miller was not going to let the blue-coloured spectacle go to waste: “I said, ‘mate, I spent a hundred dollars on my hair last night. It’s blue and there’s 45,000 people outside. I need to bowl the first over,’ Steve laughed and said, ‘No problem, Colly, you can bowl the first over’. That’s how it all panned out.”
Watch Walsh struggle to control his laughter after seeing Miller’s blue hair
"Courtney wants to make sure they are using the same XI they started with yesterday."
Walsh found Colin Miller’s unique hair colour highly distracting in the 2001 SCG Test 😂 pic.twitter.com/zezo55ZMyf
— ICC (@ICC) August 3, 2020