Runner and water breaks are two subjects that are being debated following the decision by the International Cricket Council not to allow batsman a runner.
Sunil Gavaskar had a caustic response, “I would also like to suggest that there should be no water for bowlers at the boundary end. They bowl one over and come to the boundary where energy drinks are waiting for them”
But two cricket legends offer different but interesting views on drinks interval and runner. The late C.K. Nayudu felt the water break was avoidable and Sachin Tendulkar prefers not to have a runner.
Known to be uncomfortable with the idea of having a runner, Tendulkar, at times, has preferred to bear the pain and run. Why? “Because my runner doesn’t know where I am planning to play the ball or even how hard I am going to hit,” said Tendulkar.
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Noted journalist K.V. Gopala Ratnam, a regular contributor to Indian Cricket and Sport & Pastime, said this about the legendary ‘CK’: “Water interval was an unnecessary ritual and he (CK) never had a drop himself nor allowed anyone in the team. All these, he contended, disturbed concentration. He told me once: ‘One must enter a cricket field with the same devotion and concentration as one does in entering a temple.”’
In fact, during a match in Delhi, CK’s son (CN Nayudu) was out for 95 and the father wanted to know the reason. “Was it lapse of concentration or a water interval?”
Even Gavaskar would remember how an extended drinks break in a one-day match in Sri Lanka cost India dearly. When play resumed, the Indian batting collapsed. On air, Gavaskar had warned against the needlessly-extended drinks break.
For Abbas Ali Baig, a stylish Test opener, the ruling on runner needed to be fair. “It is fair as long as it keeps the menace of batsmen faking injuries under check. But then there should be come commonality in rules pertaining to substitutes. If there is a substitute for a fielder, why not a runner for a batsman,” asked Baig.
Spin legend Bishan Singh Bedi observed, “It is not about water break. I think water is required because denying it can lead to dehydration. Of course, when we used to practice, our guru would not allow us to drink water because he believed it would come in way of our training. Have a runner but stop the facility from being exploited. Leave it to the umpires.”
Bedi, a former India captain, added, “I never saw Gavaskar with a runner. He was such a brilliant runner between the wickets!”
A former umpire summed it up well. “Don’t give a batsman a runner if he is exhausted and can’t run. But give him one if he is injured badly and can’t run. Allow the fielding captain to nominate who the runner would be. Let cricket remain a simple game.” Hindu