Cricket has come a long way from a point where batting or bowling brilliance was enough to win matches for teams. It still is the basis over which tactics are made, but that alone is not the difference anymore. Fitness, running between the wicket, match awareness, whatever may be the parameter, it is the narrow difference between the lines which decide the outcome of the match.
Following the social media influences and border perspective of people, the competition in the game of cricket is cracking the new height every day. Budding cricketers must master every slim aspect, even to stand some chance to wear the national colour.
Budding cricketers need to start taking the game more professionally from the initial stage itself. Apart from batting, bowling or fielding, modern cricket asks you to tick every other small aspect from the beginning phase. Players need to set up their routine, covering all the bases, and follow it strictly over the years with required upgradation.
Running between the wickets and quick singles and doubles is a very important factor for the batsmen, which disseminate them from good to great. It is as important as practising or improving your particular shots. Batsmen can walk away without playing some particular shots in their entire career but will find themselves in trouble if they can’t work the ball around for ones and twos, especially in tough batting conditions.
If we look back on the last three editions of the Cricket World Cup, the same factor plays an important role. According to stats in ESPNCricinfo, Indian batsmen produced the minimum dot balls percentage in ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. The champion side faced tournament-best 47.99 percentage of dot balls with the runner-up Sri Lanka placed in the second position, playing 50.19 per cent dot balls.
Looking back to 2015, the Australian cricket team sent down the most number of dot balls in the entire world cup. Aussies’ dot ball percentage was recorded as 59.13 percentage with second-placed New Zealand throwing down 58.08 percentage of balls without conceding runs.
In 2019, Jofra Archer from the winning side delivered 371 dot balls, most by any player in the tournament. Again followed by Trent Boult, from the runner-up side, with 351 balls which produced no run. The above few examples indicate the importance of placing the ball with soft hands for single or converting singles into doubles.
Although it depends upon the intent and fitness of the batsman, there is a fair number of techniques involved as well.
Taking Starts-up when you are in the non-striker end is the first sign of a good runner. The non-striker should come in motion when bowlers land his leg. The key is to start up only to the point you can return easily when it’s required. It’s necessary to create this as a habit from the beginning years as an integral part of your batting, even in nets when you are practising with your partner.
After starting up, another good quality of a good runner between wicket is calling and judgement. Generally, the striker takes a call on the shots in front of the wicket. Non-striker should take a charge of the judgement and the call when the ball goes behind the wicket or the area where the striker cannot see on his first sight.
Regarding the second or third run, the batter travelling to the danger-end should hold the key. Batsmen should be alert enough to judge the fielder’s agility and throwing arm while taking quick runs. The conditional requirement is another crucial aspect as you don’t want to take additional risks in the initial phase.
Coordination between two batters is very important when it comes down to running between the wicket. The batsman should consider his partner’s limitations and understanding to minimise the errors. These things can improve when two batters communicate in the middle while batting.
When you start running, stay low and keep your head down. Feet should be behind your centre of gravity to ensure acceleration from your lower body.
Batsmen should take shot steps within more than half the length of the pitch before pulling their heads up and taking the long strides.
The normal technique to ground your bat may hurt the batsmen if they neglect it. Batsmen should bend forward and slide the bat in even in normal conditions. This will make it their habit and there will be less chance of panicking in a crunch situation.
Apart from techniques, running between the wicket is more of approach and intent of the batsmen followed by their fitness and match awareness. These thin lines are becoming very crucial in the competitive world of cricket. Aspiring cricketers or their coaches must consider these things from an early age as modern cricket demands complete players.