The art of running between wickets

It makes for the difference between hastening defeat or victory.

Sunrisers Hyderabad’s David Warner (left) and Moises Henriques run between the wickets in Hyderabad on Sunday.   -  AFP

There was a moment in Saturday’s game here when Kings XI’s Glenn Maxwell flicked young Supergiants leg-spinner Rahul Chahar.

A single seemed on the cards, but Maxwell and David Miller, lightning quick between the wickets, stole a second run. And when the fielder, put under immense stress, attempted a direct hit, he only succeeded in conceding two overthrows.

On the rather small Holkar ground, Maxwell and Miller actually succeeded in running four, right under the nose of the Kings XI fielders.

Yes, even when two enormous strikers of the ball such as Maxwell and Miller are at the crease, running between the wickets enables a team gain a winning advantage.

Talking to Sportstar, Mumbai Indians assistant coach and former India cricketer Robin Singh observed, “Twenty20 cricket is not all about sixes and fours. If you steal 10 runs in the innings with smart running between the wickets, it will be the difference between your opponent chasing nine or 19 in the last over.”

A fine athletic runner between the wickets during his playing days, Robin said, “You need to put the fielder under pressure. You can’t assume he would field. You got to believe he would not field and run. That will force him to make a mistake and you cash in.”

Robin elaborated, “You got to be aggressive in your running, must challenge the fielder and this throw.”

There is a fair amount of technique involved as well. “You got to stay low and ground your bat well in front. You gain two to three yards,” he said.

Robin added, “And you must be quick on the turn, must not overrun. You must also know the dimensions of the ground, which side is smaller and which is bigger, the direction of the wind as it will impact the throw, and from which arm does a particular fielder throw.”

The non-striker, the start he gives is vital, has a key role. “If the ball travels to long-on for instance and if the non-striker runs the first run fast, he will ensure that the throw would be to the striker’s end and not the non-striker’s end, which is nearer, as he completes the second run. So the ball has to travel a longer distance.”

There are subtle aspects to running between the wickets. “If the batsman strikes the ball off the back foot, then he has a harder time taking off. If he down the track, it is much easier since he is already on the move,” said Robin.

Simply put, running between the wickets travels hastens a defeat or quickens a victory.