There was a funny incident involving David Gower in a match against Australia. The situation was tense and the rivalry intense. Gower sought and, promptly, got a runner. Cricket, then, was still a game.
The next ball he faced, Gower inadvertently took off for a single and sprinted faster than the runner before halting suddenly. He was obviously embarrassed. Gower had a laugh, the runner too, and the opposition captain was in splits. Needless to say, the runner retired to the cool confines of the dressing room.
Now the International Cricket Council (ICC) has ruled “prohibition of the use of runners in all forms of international cricket.”
“It's a very good idea if it helps to check the fakers,” said Kapil Dev, never once run out in a Test. “But, what if the injury is genuine and, the batsman can't even walk. Or he comes out with a hand in plaster or even leg in a plaster. Do you say no runner to a batsman who is hobbling in pain? I think the ICC may have to rethink. Maybe, a batsman who needs a runner be allowed to bat only at No 11. That can be an option.”
Mohinder Amarnath, a superb judge of a run, hoped there would be a review of the decision. “Some people might be faking an injury but then it all depends on the extent of the injury. I am amazed to know that no runner would be allowed.
“I am sure they would allow a runner when it is quite evident that the injury is genuine. I will always back the umpires to make the decision regarding a runner. You have to be fair to the batsman.”
It would not be a bad idea for the ICC to post a physio at every international match to judge the authenticity of an injury so that a batsman can be provided with a runner.
Advantage to the bowler
The ICC has also decided to re-introduce the use of two new balls, one from each end, in a 50 over ODI.
Kapil welcomed the idea. “The decision makers must have obviously tested this idea. It will be a big advantage for the bowler. The ball will be hard and the shine will stay longer. But then the batsmen these days are happy facing the new ball. It flies faster off the bat. But it is good for the game.”
In Mohinder's opinion, it would make the contest interesting. “It has been tried earlier and I am sure the bowlers would be smiling. It may not be a great move in the sub-continent where the pitches are batsman-friendly.
“But it will test the batting skills in places like England, Australia and South Africa. Batsmen are going to find it tough and the seamers will just love the idea. Basically you would have much to do with a ball that is to be used only for 25 overs. Also, totals of 300-plus, so common these days, would be checked.”
“I wish I was around,” joked Manoh Prabhakar, a crafty swinger of the ball. “It is a very fair move. The bowlers will have their say. The batsmen too will like the hard ball. The bowlers have always been at the receiving end in cricket but this will now see the return of the swing bowler. The scores are likely to reduce and 250-260 could become a winning total.”
Hot Spot. Hawk Eye. Snickometer. Ball Tracker. Cricket, for some time, has been flooded with innovations driven by technology. The Board of Control for Cricket in India and the ICC have held varying views on some aspects of these innovations, especially the Decision Review Systems (DRS).
The ICC stated on Tuesday, “DRS for Test matches and One-Day Internationals which would set a universal standard, taking into consideration availability and commercial issues, that infra-red cameras and audio-tracking devices should be used. The continued use of ball-tracking technology as a decision-making aid will depend on bilateral agreement between the participating Members. “
The Indian Board should be happy with this, having always consulted the senior players and the team's coach and acted upon their suggestions. This is what they had advocated all along!