Good communications between batsmen is a vital part of good running between wickets. This can be a simple glance at your partner (players who have batted together many times) to a quick word as you pass in the middle of the wicket (e.g. ‘two’, ‘have a look’, etc); and definitely means using only YES, NO, or WAIT to call or cancel runs. YES = definitely a run. NO = definitely not a run. WAIT = there may be a run.
Positive batting means being on the lookout for at least one run from every ball you face or are standing at the non-strikers end. It is therefore important that there be some calling for every delivery.
As was mentioned earlier, good communications is vital for good running and that is why you should call every ball. Let your partner know what you are thinking. Many a run-out is caused when one batsman is thinking yes while the other is thinking no but they neglect to tell each other.
It is generally accepted that balls hit in front of the wicket are the call of the striker and those behind the wicket are the call of the non-striker. That said, both batsmen should assess the possibility of a run and be prepared to call each delivery. Should your partner call you for a run you do not want you have every right to say NO, as long as you do it early and loudly.
NO always takes precedence over any previous call.
As a batsman you should be looking to score at least one run from every delivery, even those you let pass through to the keeper, so know where the ball is at all times. The responsibility for being on the look out for runs does not solely rest with the striker; the non- striker has a vital role to play in this area also.
The non-striker must face the bowler and watch him deliver the ball and then move quickly out of his crease, all the time watching the flight of the ball to quickly assess its line and length. Knowing the line and length will give an indication of the type and direction of the shot the batsmen is going to play. Be on the move (not stationary) as the ball is struck; the thing to be alert for is the ball struck straight back, (knowing line and length will help) stay side on using a sideways skip (bat in the trailing hand) so that you can go quickly into a run or quickly back to your crease.
Another reason to watch the bowler deliver the ball, is that it is the most appropriate time to leave your crease; getting you far enough out of your crease to be ready to run without being so far out you can not get back, if necessary.
The non-striker can instigate many extra runs from balls that get away from the keeper or strike the batsman’s pads/body and stay close to the wicket. For this to happen the non-striker must be alert every ball, watch the bowler deliver the ball, move quickly out of his crease, call loudly, clearly and early.
Far too many batsmen do not take advantage of the opportunity they have at the non-strikers end to have a close look at the opposing bowlers. See how they grip the ball for different deliveries, where they deliver from on the crease, changes in run up or delivery. Who knows, it may even save a wicket – YOURS.
Watch the bowlers as they walk back to their mark, turn to run in, approach and deliver, look for any information that may help you to play that bowler and most importantly the moment the ball is released move out of your crease.
Some players like to walk a few paces with the bowler others like to stand outside the crease with just their bat behind it; work out what suits you best. Whatever technique you use take advantage of the opportunity to watch the bowler. I don’t mean by this concentrate so intently on the bowler that you wear yourself out mentally, but as well as taking time to rest at the non-strikers end use the time spent there to learn about your opponents.
Where do you run? With right arm over the wicket or left arm around the wicket bowlers the non- striker runs on the leg side and the striker runs on the off side of the wicket. Both players stay on their respective sides of the wicket for all runs, thereby avoiding the possibility of getting in each other’s way or worse still, colliding.
In any situation where both batsmen are running on the same side of the wicket the striker runs closest to the wicket and the non-striker furthest from the wicket. Maintain these positions for every run from the shot; do not cross over each other. A lot of batsmen having hit the ball and starting to run on the off side then cross over to the leg side in completing the first run (try to avoid doing this, unless absolutely necessary); if this happens then the above rule applies – striker close, non-striker wider.
A cricket bat can weigh from 2lb 5oz to 2lb 10oz or even more; this constitutes quite a substantial weight to run with. Carrying the bat in one hand can have an unbalancing effect as you run. Carry the bat in front of you, close to the body, elbows bent and balanced in both hands; one at the top of the handle the other along the blade. From this position it is a simple manoeuvre to switch the bat from hand-to-hand to enable you to watch the fielder chasing, or with the ball, as you turn.
Always hold the bat as long as possible (closest to the top of the handle) when you turn, slide the bat on its edge and get low in the turn; bat will slide easier and turning is quicker. Make your decision on the next run prior to the turn if it is obvious or as you come out of the turn if it looks like being a tight one. Certainly under no circumstances stop to make a decision, then have to restart your running. The point mentioned earlier about a quick word to your partner as you pass ensures you are both thinking along the same lines.
In the situation where you are turning at the end the throw will most likely come to, but it is your partners call, however he has a poor view of the fielder because he is directly behind him (balls straight at either end), take responsibility for the call and say no if there is any risk or let your partner know what is happening – easy run, picking up the ball etc. Give him some information; don’t just leave it up to him.
Avoid running a long way past the crease unless you are trying to beat an incoming throw. Know where the ball is or is headed at all times; turn and be on the lookout for any chance to run (mishandled ball in the outfield, overthrow, wild throw) and communicate with your partner.
Good aggressive running can put the fielding side under a lot of pressure. Bad reckless running will cause run outs, the balance needs to be right.