"No runner for you"

I have a very vivid recollection of something that happened to me years ago - summer of 1993 in Nellore. It was a match between students aspiring to be engineers and students aspiring to be doctors. I used to open the batting for the engineering stream blokes and on that particular day I carried a slight fever and a pair of very sore legs into the game. After fielding first under the scorching sun, the body temperature increased and my legs were really struggling when we went into bat. Ten overs into our innings, I asked for a runner and the captain of the medicine team denied me one. I had a huge argument with him, but he kept harping on why I shouldn't have played the game when I wasn't really fit and that he wasn't there to do any favours to the opposing team. The umpires went with him and I got out soon after holing out to deep mid-wicket. We ended up losing and it did take a while for me to speak with that captain guy again.

The reason why I am bringing this up now, is because of something that happened in the 20-20 game between the Kiwis and the Springboks. Scott Styris carried a niggle into the game and hampered it even further during the course of the game. When he asked for a runner, Graeme Smith refused to grant him one. I dont support players going into a game without being fully fit, but I dont really like the idea of the opposing captain deciding whether a runner needs to be granted or not. It should be the umpire's (sole) prerogative to decide whether the batsman got injured (or the injury got worsened) during the course of the game and whether he genuinely requires a fresh pair of legs or not. Graeme Smith belongs to the new generation of brash and battle-hard skippers who wouldn't flinch atleast once at kicking their opponents when they are down. Fleming is a class act and he might not have done the same, but it does make sense to keep the skippers out of this decision making process. With technology taking away quite a few of the powers of the umpires in the middle, they wouldn't really complain at being the sole judges of whether a runner is warranted or not.

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Blogger CambournePat 12:33 PM

I guess a compromise could be for the umpire to make the decision and inform the fielding captain what has happened. At that moment the captain could do the sporting thing and allow the batsman a runner. A similar provision exists for captains who wish to withdraw an appeal if they feel a batsman has been given out unfairly.    

Blogger vishnupavan 1:55 PM

Pat, the rule book says that the umpire should be the one with the final discretion and I believe it should remain like that without the fielding captain having any say in it at all. The captain might do the sporting thing more often than not, but there is always a slim chance that he might not be in a sporting mood - why give room for that chance?    

Blogger Global Indian 12:07 PM

This reminds me of 194 Saeed Anwar hit against us in Pepsi Independence Cup.

I feel a runner should be allowed only
if the batsmen is 'injured' during the course of the match. If the batsmen comes into the match half-fit and asks for a runner, it should not be allowed. Now, most batsmen who ask for runners, ask for them because they are cramped. Are cramps injuries? I feel not.

Had Sachin Tendulkar (then captain of Indian team) not allowed a runner, Saeed Anwar would not have hit that 194. In that match, Anwar asked for a runner becoz of cramps.

Now, whom should the decision rest with? Definitely the umpire. I think only both the umpires in consultation can take good decision, not the opposition captain.    

Blogger BangaloreGuy 9:22 AM

I think its quite okay for the opposing team to have a say. I do think it is rather ridiculous to carry an injury or niggle into a game.
I am not quite sure how hard an impediment cramps can be - havent had one when I play - so I wont comment on that.

But of course, like much of life, cricket is also revising the rules, so maybe just leaving it to the umpires may perhaps be also considered - but I dont think it will affect the outcome as such.
I have seen enough biased umpires to think it shouldnt be any different. There will be umpires in Smith's mould as well.    

Blogger Nirav 11:16 PM

I think the rule states very clearly that a runner should be allowed in case of any on-field injury or sickness. So it requires the approval of the opposing captain wherever there is a doubt.

I dont know, but I think the rule is quite fair right now. In case someone is not fit before the match begins, he should not be getting any advantage because of that, since he goes into the match knowing that.    

Blogger Jagadish 2:05 AM

Do you reckon Smith's move was to give something back to Fleming in return for Fleming's sledging outburst last year in New Zealand?


Blogger vishnupavan 2:58 PM

jagadish, there is a fair bit of bad blood between the Kiwis and the South Africans - am sure Smith was trying to get back at Fleming for what happened last year.. and that is exactly the reason why the captains shouldn't be wearing the deciding hats in matters like these.. would help if they just leave it to the umpires...    

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